Boris Johnson will go on trial for 'lying and misleading' the British public over the consequences of Brexit, and here's exactly what he's been accused of.
A judge has summoned the MP for Uxbridge to court after lawyers representing 29-year-old Marcus Ball lodged a private prosecution claim against Johnson at Westminster Magistrates' Court over claims that the cost of EU membership was £350 million a week.
District Judge Margot Coleman threw out arguments by Mr Johnson's lawyers that the case was a 'vexatious' attempt to undermine the 2016 Brexit referendum result. In a written statement, she said:
Having considered all the relevant factors I am satisfied that this is a proper case to issue the summons as requested for the three offences [of misconduct in a public office].
The charges are indictable only. This means the proposed defendant will be required to attend this court for a preliminary hearing, and the case will then be sent to the crown court for trial.
At a hearing earlier this month, Lewis Power QC, a lawyer representing Mr Ball, told the court that Mr Johnson deliberately misled the public during the Brexit referendum, and that the former foreign secretary 'used the platforms and opportunities offered to him by virtue of his public office' over the £350 million a week claim.
He argued that Mr Johnson deliberately misled the public during the 2016 Brexit referendum, and then again in the 2017 general election. In a statement, he said:
Democracy demands responsible and honest leadership from those in public office.
The conduct of the proposed defendant Boris Johnson was both irresponsible and dishonest. It was, we say, criminal.
He also emphasised that the prosecution's application wasn't brought to undermine the results of the Brexit referendum, saying:
The UK has never sent, given or provided £350 million a week to Europe - that statement is simply not ambiguous.
The prosecution is not about Brexit, the only relevance to Brexit is that it was during the Brexit referendum Mr Johnson chose to mislead the public.
People on Twitter were quick to make their thoughts clear on the findings.
Others questioned why Michael Gove hasn't been summoned to court.
Mr Johnson was not in court for the hearing, but his lawyer, Adrian Darbishire QC, said that his client denies any allegations of acting dishonestly:
I should make it clear that because of the interest in this case that it is absolutely denied by Mr Johnson that he acted in an improper or dishonest manner at any time.
He also argued that the Vote Leave campaign was based on information that was 'available to all'.
Vote Leave made no claim to special knowledge of the sums expended by the UK, they exercised no official powers in promoting that message and the provision of figures about UK spending formed no part of Mr Johnson’s official duties.
This application is brought for political purposes.
The summons comes as Mr Johnson launches his campaign for leadership of the Conservative Party after Theresa May announced that she will be stepping down on July 7th, after Donald Trump's state visit.