Interview

Exclusive interview: Man who brought private prosecution against Boris Johnson faces ‘financial ruin’ over £200,000 debt

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Uncertainty over Marcus Ball’s future comes despite crowdfunding over £500,000

Marcus Ball

The man who brought a private prosecution against prime minister hopeful Boris Johnson has told Legal Cheek he faces an uncertain financial future after racking up debts of around £200,000.

Despite crowdfunding over £500,000 over three years to bring the case, Marcus Ball has told this website in an exclusive interview that “in terms of the overall balance sheet, money owed and money left, we’re in the negatives.” When asked if he’s in debt, the director of Brexit Justice Limited responded: “Oh, massive debt, of approximately about £200,000, roundabout.”

Ball’s candid comments come after he attempted to prosecute Johnson for alleged misconduct in public office, specifically his claim that the NHS could receive £350 million extra a week following Brexit. The High Court reversed a decision to issue a summons against the prominent Brexiteer last month.

Sipping a glass of apple juice in a café in London’s trendy Shoreditch, Ball spoke openly about his cashflow situation. His openness was to be expected. After all, he maintains that “if you’re prosecuting someone for [allegedly] lying about money, you cannot be in a position where you’re seen to be lying about money”.

Despite facing a potential hefty costs order, Ball believed that, going forward, he can crowdfund more cash. “If I did not believe in this case and the evidence we’ve got, I would be terrified. I would be fucking panicking,’ he explained. Asked if he intends to take proceedings against Johnson further, Ball told us:

“It is highly likely we will appeal. However, the legal team and I have to define exactly what the appeal is going to be before I confidently announce it. Because I don’t want to be in a position where I’m saying, ‘Oh, I’m definitely appealing, I’m definitely appealing’, and then in two weeks my legal team, finding something, are saying, ‘Marcus we can’t appeal because of this’. I have to be 100% sure otherwise it’s not responsible to say it.”

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And yet, Ball admits he’s “totally fucked” if his campaign against Johnson is unsuccessful. “Financially, I’m ruined if this doesn’t happen”, he said. As if to prove his entrepreneurial mentality, he stressed his willingness to bear this costly burden to achieve his ulterior aim: eradicating dishonesty from politics which, he believes, kills democracy. Ball continued:

“I understood this from the beginning, you have to be willing to take that and absorb that risk otherwise nobody else will. This is the advantage I’m in: I’m young, I don’t have a wife or kids to be responsible for, or a mortgage or a car. I don’t have things that rely upon me.”

Such self-sacrifice fits well with his campaign’s narrative, which relies on familiar imagery of an outsider fighting against the establishment, as illustrated by Ball’s widely used hashtag, #BallVJohnson. Indeed, as he was told early on into his campaign, people (and, more importantly, financial backers) respond better to a story if there’s a clear protagonist and an antagonist. Ball didn’t say which one he was in this scenario.

Legal Cheek’s Adam Mawardi with Marcus Ball

Despite his new-found public platform, the Canterbury Christ Church University history grad expressed no interest in pursuing politics, nor legal practice. Rather, providing he can successfully prosecute Johnson, Ball revealed plans to take other politicians to task over their misconduct in public office. Without naming names, Ball cites “obvious cases” including the US elections, MEP expenses scandals and the Iraq War.

Predicting he would crowdfund these endeavours too, Ball appeared inspired by the ‘move fast and break things’ mantra previously popular among the tech start-up community. “Why don’t we use that same way of thinking when it comes to older systems? Why don’t we reform the law and the way democracy works with small, fast-moving teams that are funded in unusual ways?” he questioned.

That said, the sustainability of this crowdfunding model is unclear and depends on first building a track record of success, starting with Johnson. “If I get to the point where I feel that absolutely nothing can be achieved, I cannot justify raising more money from people.”

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81 Comments

Anonymous

I MAKE 200K AS AN NQ HAHAHAHAHAHA

(14)(27)

Anonymous

Where?

(7)(0)

Anonymous

CMS brah they upped pay last night

(15)(1)

Mc Trainee

FAKKK WHY DID I NOT APPLY TO CMS!!!!1

(7)(1)

Kirkland NQ

Do they make lateral hires?

(7)(1)

Anonymous

Finally a good one from you.

Kirkland NQ

Aw, that’s cute.

(3)(4)

Dr. Evil, PhD

Boo frickety hoo!

(1)(0)

Anon

And?

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Good. Private prosecutions should not be brought for blatantly political reasons. Those who do so should expect to be punished with hefty cost orders.

(88)(10)

Anonymous

To be fair this is exactly the form in which private prosecution first appeared in ancient Rome – as a way to advance politically by attacking your opponent (Cicero, Caesar and many others used it only for this). But the guy here is clearly shady.

(30)(4)

Cicero

In times of war, the law falls silent.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

And for GOD’S SAKE LET US BE FAIR… else we are no better than the damn animals.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Fair enough

(0)(0)

Anonymous

All prosecutions in Rome were private prosecutions.

(9)(0)

Anonymous

This is just code for “guys give me more money.” Surprised LC didn’t include a bank account.

(68)(1)

Anonymous

Gtfo wit this labour supporter

(25)(9)

Anonymous

Oh no, an actual aide/staffer and activist with Helen Hayes, MP for Dulwich and West Norwood. He was one very naughty boy on Wikipedia, but evidently too stupid to cover his tracks.

From the robotic responses fuelled with the usual OTT anti-Boris Johnson venom, I always had a feeling that a lot of folk shilling for him online (even on this website) either work at/for Labour HQ or are proper (no pun intended) registered Labour activists.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

If you come at the king, you best not miss.

(29)(7)

feasel

Hi,

Given how much Legal Cheek has prattled on about this case, I was surprised you didn’t publish an article when the judgment came out: https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2019/1709.html.

Now you’re giving fawning “Exclusive Interview” publicity to the prosecutor in circumstances where the High Court said it would have quashed the district judge’s decision that the prosecution was not vexatious: para 46.

Hmmm.

(52)(2)

Anonymous

Wants to be taken seriously…

Wears a creased grey t-shirt to conduct an interview…

(28)(8)

Anonymous

All the best journalists have a picture taken with their interveiwee, right?

(24)(3)

Anonymous

They’re interviewing a CCCU grad. It was never going to be taken seriously in any event.

(19)(1)

Anonymous

Is the CCCU like the CCP? The Chinese communist collective union?

(3)(1)

Anonymous

Nope, just a decent teaching college/poly that got a uni charter and added some super-shet courses.

They have a law school, but no one knows why: CCCU LLBs have the worst/2nd worst job prospects of all QLD providers, depending on which year of the rankings you look at.

(9)(2)

Anonymous

So it IS like the CCP?

Anonymous

Can anyone set out how the 500k might have been spent?

As far as I know a District Judge issued a summons, and then there was a 1 ( or 2 day) review in the High Court of the issuing of the summons.

Even if costs follow the event etc, the HC hearing hardly swallowed 500k or (700k if he is a further 200k in debt?)

(40)(1)

Anonymous

Indeed. Some-fin fishy going on here…

(18)(1)

Anonymous

Since Section 19 of the Prosecution of Offences Act protects a prosecutor, public or private from a costs order and LAPO allows an prosecutor to recover his costs from central funds even if the prosecution is unsucessful, but prevents an aquitted defendant doing so how can he possibly be out of pocket to the tune of £700k?

Even more absurd is his claim that he will be ruined if Boris is not prosecuted. How so? Suspending disbelief for a moment and just assuming that an appeal was allowed, a summons issued and Boris convicted, then no money would be payable to the prosecutor. A convicted defended can be fined (and the money goes to the state) or imprisioned, but this isn’t a civil action where he wins damages if successful. His reasonable costs could be recovered from a convicted defendant, but he can recover them from the tax payer even if Boris is never prosecuted.

Why no challenge to what are false claims?

(42)(2)

Anonymous

He clearly states “legal team” on a few occasions. There’s obviously a number of solicitors that have been time recording like mad. They saw this mark coming a mile away and are greasing him for every pound they can.

(33)(1)

Bob

It’s a civil claim, it’s in the civil courts.

And he said he’s ruined if he doesn’t succeed in his claim because in the civil proceedings he will get costs.

(1)(19)

Anonymous

No it isn’t. It is a criminal case, commenced in the Magistrates Court. The decsion was JRed. It is still a JR of a criminal case not a civil case. If it goes to the Court of Appeal, it is still an appeal in a criminal case. Section 19 applies. Assuming Borris submitted a CRM14 and was rejected for Legal Aid on his means, he can recover costs limited to the legal aid rate from central funds. However, Section 19 of the Prosecution of Offences Act limits the Courts power in relation to costs to Wasted Costs only. Costs do not follow the event as they do in a civil case. To recover any costs at all it has to be shown that the party has to be shown to have acted improperly, not just that they have lost.

Even if an application for costs was sucessful S19(2) gave the LC of the day the power to make regulations to “… make provision as to the account to be taken, in making such an order, of any other order as to costs . . . which has been made in respect of the proceedings of whether, for the purposes of the proceedings, representation has been provided under Part 1 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012].” The LC did so limiting the costs that can be awarded to a defendant to the legal aid rate.

No LGF or AGF would be payable at legal aid rates as the case was never sent to the Crown Court under Section 51. The Legal Aid rate for preparation and attendance in the Magistartes Court for an indictable only offence (which this was) is zero. JRs and appeals arrising from criminal proceedings are assoicated work for the purpose of the Standard Criminal Contract and costs which can be recovered for defending these proceedings are limited to the legal aid rate.

(20)(0)

Administration of Justice Act 1960

You can’t appeal a decision of the High Court in a criminal cause or matter to the Court of Appeal anyway. It has to go to the Supreme Court pursuant to s. 1 of the AJA 1960, which is only possible if the administrative court certify that a point of law of general public importance is involved.

Hopefully this gentleman’s hotshot legal team have advised him of that fact before he wastes another £500,000 on an appeal to the Court of Appeal which it will have no jurisdiction to hear.

(12)(1)

Anonymous

Now I see that someone else made the same point before me!

Anonymous

Stand corrected. But my point was regardless of what Boris may do or the Prosecutor may do, Borris is a defendant in Criminal Proceedings and so may only recover his costs by way of of Defendant’s Costs Order and can only recover his costs against central funds (the tax payer) if aquitted not the prosecotor.

As with any prosecution, however absurd and whether brought by a private individual or the CPS as a result of LASPO, no costs can be claimed against the prosecutor and recovery of costs is limited to the legal aid rate from central funds. A point Michael Howard and the former speaker of the HofC found to their cost, as having like Boris being lobby fodder who walked through whichever lobby his party told him to and voted for LASPO found that when he had to defend himself from a speeding charge wrongly brought or a rape charge wrongly brought found themselves £100k out of pocket as they could only recover their costs at the legal aid rate (having being refused legal aid).

Anonymous

This concerns fundamentally whether the DJ acted lawfully and within her lawful powers when she accepted the application to prosecute, issued summons to appear for Boris Johnson and made/prepared an application to indict, hence a civil case/matter rather than a criminal case/matter, and appeals are limited to on points of law only.

R (Miller (and other(s))) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union would indeed suggest an appeal against a JR judgment in the EWHC (QBD (Admin/Div)) would indeed be at the UKSC rather than the COA.

Anonymous

The High Court’s (Administrative Court) JR (ultra vires/null and void) judgment means that there were never valid or lawful ‘criminal proceedings’ taken place, hence evidently not covered by s.19.

The rest is for another discussion.

(0)(0)

Bob

Good, people who engage in lawfare for political reasons deserve to be crushed.

(34)(2)

Anonymous

As is the case all too often, the pertinent questions are raised by the commenters, not by the “interview”. What’s a man who is £200k down doing in a Shoreditch stripped pine café? As for his “openness”, you can afford to be open when no serious questions are being asked.

(42)(2)

Anonymous

Oooops LC, shouldn’t have sent a boy to do a mans job!

(14)(5)

Anonymous

Can’t quite fathom how a preliminary hearing in the mags and a short JR racked up £700k in costs. However, if it did, I’m in the wrong area of law.

(31)(0)

Anonymous

Right?!? I’m sitting here with a decent chunk of my billable target outstanding and I’m just salivating at that figure.

If the numbers are true, the kid is getting fleeced. If he can crowdfund more and pays the full bill, he will officially be the best client any firm could hope for – one that doesn’t scrutinize a time sheet.

(14)(1)

Anonymous

Should be an inquiry on the bent lawyers charging that.

(11)(1)

Anonymous

Those fees don’t add up in my mind.

(13)(1)

Anonymous

Nope. I just do a lot of time recording in civil cases and think something is missing in the description of how costs have mounted up.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

If it looks like fraud, smells like fraud and quacks like fraud…

(0)(1)

Dusty Wig

I seem to remember reading elsewhere that some of this gentleman’s costs included the cost of renting a central London apartment from which to pursue his vexatious prosecution. Perhaps tens of thousands of pounds of gullible donors’ income will now be necessary to keep him in comfort during a hopeless appeal.

(32)(1)

Anonymous

Of course! Because it would be quite impossible to commute in, wouldn’t it?

(12)(1)

Paul the other one

Cock me thinks

(10)(0)

Anonymous

I predict a riot

(4)(0)

Anonymous

You can’t say that! This chap will prosecute!

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Appeal in a criminal cause or matter is to the Supreme Court. He needs the Divisional Court to certify that there is a point of law of general public importance. It won’t. Ergo, no appeal.

(12)(2)

Anonymous

No, (1) a JR is NOT an appeal, and a JR is always a civil matter, restricted to points of law (and the application thereof) only; (2) a criminal appeal concerning pure ‘questions of law’ are usually/always get sent to the UKSC by the COA; (3) an appeal can still go ahead if the UKSC disagrees with the original decision to refuse (permission to appeal) by the Divisional/Administrative Court; (4) you might need to find yourself a better Law textbook than your present one (likely of the general studies/+Law/Legal Studies variety).

(0)(2)

Anonymous

I’m familiar with the works of Mr. Ball. For whatever reason, he’s got himself involved with all sorts of things he has no expertise in – running a start-up incubator for students without any experience of setting up and running a business. That failed when the local authority and university grants ran out. There was the app development that came to nothing, not surprising when he had no experience of development or coding. I seem to remember he ran a coupe of campaigns around education reform which didn’t seem to go anywhere, again, no experience in the education sector apart from reading history at a meh university. Now there’s this nonsense. Ball styles himself as a “private prosecutor” which is highly deceptive as he has no legal qualifications or experience – something his crowdfunding backers might not be aware of.

Something else that his latest backers may also not be aware of was the original crowdfunding that he started in 2016 was completely wasted after he ignored the advice of his silk (David Perry) who told him the case had no chance, thought he knew better, fired him and found someone else to take his backer’s money (after rent and cupcake deductions).

(38)(1)

Tes

I feel for the poor sobs who funded this scammer because he gave them false hope

(5)(2)

Benny Goodman

References to David Perry QC in this comment piqued my interest. Have a look at pp82-88 (internal) on the link below for Marcus Ball’s interesting take on that episode…

https://uploads.strikinglycdn.com/files/3902ffb3-31e2-43b2-8be0-563aad9df9e8/Brexit%20Justice%20Case%20Overview%20Document%20(44,000%20words).pdf

(4)(0)

Lady Skimmington

Very interesting point Benny. Thanks for sharing
Mr Ball does seem to think he knows better than David Perry but his ramblings about conflicts of interest is just bizarre

(0)(1)

Anonymous

(0)(1)

Anonymous

We only have Marcus Ball’s word for it that this was the actual professional and qualified legal advice from and issued by David Perry QC… and even that carried/carries a disclaimer ‘sections from a variety of legal opinions presented to Marcus J Ball’ (i.e., selectively quoted)…

An actual criminal Silk would only need to go through to Page 6 to tell him, in private, one-to-one, ‘Here’s the number for that consultant our partners normally use (for ourselves) in Harley Street.’

(0)(0)

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