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

Is a detailed breakdown of expenses available?

(14)(0)

Anon

Yes, Ask Mr Ball.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

I just did.

(3)(0)

Tommy

Erm… misconduct in public office is not a criminal offence…. he probably won’t appeal.

(1)(2)

Anonymous

Needs money to appeal – lawyers cost money.

Misfeasance in public office is a civil action that may be appropriate. As far as I know, it is reserved for dodgy police officers who cannot be prosecuted for criminal acts done in the course of their employment because of this absurd policy protection in place for them. This should be reformed in specific circumstances. No one is above the law. Police are licensed thugs.

(3)(1)

Anonymous

Any Common law offence/cause last commonly heard of before 1914 or 1945, with/without the word ‘revived’ in Wikipedia… the general advice is (probably) ‘Don’t (even) go there’ (unless you are an actual QC and you are trying to prove yourself to be VERY clever in law)…

And ‘if you do decide to do so, we MUST advice you in advance that your BUPA or other medical/life (or even car) insurance policy might become invalidated on undiagnosed mental ill-health grounds.’

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I’m so glad you left the comments open on this one.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Costs should be four figures, not six.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I feel that there is a security for costs point here, and any media like this will only support such an application.

I do think that it is entirely his own fault.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Would need to see the breakdown.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

I smell a large rotting tortoise that died of dysentery!

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Your nose is to close to somewhere.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Please take a moment to think.

Litigation for fun is not a sensible course of action. It is serious and costs a lot of money.

Above all – this is not without risk to Marcus Ball himself – in terms of the courts ability to infiltrate your life and make you pay costs and the personal stress.

There are other ways to make these points without personal liability to yourself. “Crowdfunding” will dry up.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I think crowdfunding and other types of litigation funding will continue to grow. Costs must be proportionate and reasonable, not used as punishment or fines.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I agree. At this rate, because of sky high costs – legitimate challenges will not be brought because of the risk involved.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Hopefully judges will be more robust in disallowing excessive costs.

(0)(0)

Anon

ahahahahahahah, serves him right. He is pretty shameless though first he crowdfunds money for a hopeless legal action, wasting thousands on unnecessary expenses and now he wants to present himself as some sort of sob story. PATHETIC.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

I’m sorry I just don’t understand how the costs can be so high on either side, particularly his. No I accept that this was a high profile case, it seems to me that one trip to the magistrates court and one trip to the administrative court cannot possibly have costed as much as this. Presumably the hearing at the High Court was only listed for one day, and whilst I accept that leading council was instructed, it seems to me that lawyers on both sides have been ripping the piss. Although that might be expected on Boris Johnson’s side, it seems to be unforgivable on the side that is crowdfunding. It seems to me that they have piled in and billed as much as possible. This is one of the problem with crowdfunding campaign is. The lawyers involved see it as a blank cheque to bill as much as they possibly can.

This case was hardly legally complex. The call contacts were quite specific and narrow. I just cannot understand how the costs got so high. This is not even a case to which very expensive and costly disclosure processes apply. It really was as simple as drafting the summons/laying the information, and then the paperwork required for the judicial review. It does not seem that this was a particularly evident heavy case either.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Sorry I used the dictation thing and the spelling is terrible

(0)(0)

Anonymous

out of interest, what dictation thing/software do you use? the spelling looks ok to me

(0)(0)

Dave Thomas

The (ahem) private prosecutor points out “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.”
In other words he isn’t going to be paying any £200k or paying back any of his gullible contributors because he has no assets.
Nice work if you can get it – and still he has his hand out for more.

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.

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