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07 Jun 2019

Andrew Smith comments on Boris Johnson challenge in the media

Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary, has successfully challenged a demand to appear in court after a private prosecution was brought against him by campaigner Marcus Ball. Mr Johnson was accused of misconduct in a public office over claims he made during the Brexit referendum campaign about the UK sending £350m a week to the EU.

Partner Andrew Smith has commented on this development in The Guardian and stated that: “If the high court hadn’t quashed the summons, the CPS would surely have intervened to discontinue it for public interest reasons. Legally, there is no election-specific statutory offence of providing false or misleading information, except in relation to a candidate’s character or conduct. Marcus Ball therefore had to rely on misconduct in public office, an ill-defined common law offence, much criticised by law reform bodies such as the law commission.

“The high court was clearly not satisfied that the district judge had applied this law correctly – and frankly to prosecute a politician for making allegedly false or misleading claims during a political campaign would have been not only legally remarkable but without precedent.”