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  1. ITV Report

Boris Johnson wins court challenge over claims he lied about Brexit delivering £350m for the NHS

Boris Johnson delivers his campaign message in front of the Brexit bus. Credit: PA

Boris Johnson will not face a criminal prosecution over allegations he misled the public during the Brexit campaign.

Mr Johnson has won a High Court challenge against a court summons over claims the EU receives £350 million a week from the UK and that Brexit would divert the cash to be pumped into the NHS.

It was emblazoned across the Brexit bus that travelled the country.

Campaigner Marcus Ball was seeking to bring Mr Johnson to court on the grounds that the claims, made during the 2016 referendum campaign and then repeated during the 2017 general election, amounted to misconduct in public office.

Earlier this month, Mr Ball exclusively told ITV News his primary objective is to "stop lying in politics".

Speaking outside the High Court, Mr Ball, who crowdfunded £200,000 to bring the private prosecution against Mr Johnson, said he would wait until the judges provided their reasons for throwing out the case before considering his next move.

Expressing his disappointment, he said: "We have just given the green light for every politician to lie to us about our money forever. That is a terrifying idea.''

Asked if he had a message for Mr Johnson, Mr Ball, who devoted three years to his cause, said: "You don't have the right to lie to the public about how their money is being spent.

"I would ask you, please, all members of Parliament, all elected representatives, understand: you cannot lie to the public about their money."

Mr Johnson, the current frontrunner for the Tory leadership, did not appear at the High Court and a spokesman for him said he would not be commenting on the case.

However Home Secretary Sajid Javid came to his defence on Twitter, stating: "Very glad to see the court case against @BorisJohnson thrown out. Freedom of speech feels increasingly challenged - we should always seek to debate political arguments in the open rather than close them down."

Brexiteer Conservative MP Bob Seely, responding to a tweet about the case being quashed, said: "Good! That it made this far was ridiculous!"

Mr Ball estimates around 12,000 people contributed financially to his ‘Brexit Justice’ campaign. Responding to questions about the money raised he told reporters outside the High Court: "I've already spent more money than I've raised. "I've put myself in massive debt to do this." He added: "I care about solving the problem. It seems melodramatic, but I'm willing to sacrifice myself because I care about solving the problem."

Mr Johnson, the former foreign secretary was handed a summons, issued by District Judge Margot Coleman on May 29, to attend Westminster Magistrates' Court to face three allegations of misconduct in public office.

However following the hearing in London today, Lady Justice Rafferty and Mr Justice Supperstone overturned her decision.

Addressing Mr Johnson's barrister, Adrian Darbishire QC, Lady Justice Rafferty said: "We are persuaded, Mr Darbishire, so you succeed, and the relief that we grant is the quashing of the summonses."

The judge said reasons for the court's ruling will be given at a later date.

Mr Darbishire argued that the attempt to prosecute Mr Johnson was "politically motivated and vexatious".

Boris Johnson did not attend the High Court hearing. Credit: PA

Mr Darbishire earlier told the court that the £350m a week figure was disputed "as soon it was said" and remains the subject of public debate.

He said: "It was just a political claim open to and available for contradiction and debate, and it was, and is, for the good sense of the electorate to discount it if they choose so to do.

"It is not for the CPS, judge and jury to determine the misconduct of this claim and it is not for the interested party either."

District Judge Margot Coleman originally summonsed Mr Johnson to court on the grounds that ''The allegations which have been made are unproven accusations and I do not make any findings of fact.

In a written decision 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 as drafted. The charges are indictable only.''

Marcus Ball spent three years bringing the private prosecution against Boris Johnson to court. Credit: PA

Mr Ball has always argued his court battle was not about stopping the UK from leaving the EU.

He has dismissed claims it is a Trojan horse to stop Brexit, and said the case, which was mounted in February, would never have passed through the court system ahead of March 29 - the date the UK should have left the EU.

Mr Ball's lawyers, in written submissions, argued the attempted prosecution was "an issue of significant public and political interest" that had been "heightened" by Mr Johnson's entry into the Tory leadership election.

They said: "The entirely proper motivation for the prosecution is to hold to account a high-profile politician and holder of public office for what is alleged to be significant misconduct in relation to an issue of great public importance."

Boris Johnson pictured leaving the Cabinet office in Westminster in March. Credit: PA

Mr Johnson has always declined to speak about the case publicly but outlined his position in a statement, following District Judge Coleman's verdict, in which he reveals his belief that Mr Ball's ''application is brought for political purposes.

"The position presented to the Court is that this is a disinterested attempt to improve the standards of political debate.

"The reality of this enterprise is different. The 'Prosecutor' (a limited company) is 'Brexit Justice Limited'.

"Brexit Justice Limited is the product of a campaign to undermine the result of the Brexit referendum, and/or to prevent its consequences.

"The company and this application owe their existence to the desire on the part of individuals such as Mr Ball to undermine the referendum result. The 'Brexit justice' which is ultimately sought is no Brexit."