News

Crowdfunded Boris Johnson prosecution in last-ditch Supreme Court appeal

By on
83

Campaigner Marcus Ball attempts to revive charges of misconduct in public office

Boris Johnson and Marcus Ball

The failed bid to prosecute Boris Johnson for allegedly lying to the public during the EU referendum campaign could be revived by a last ditch Supreme Court appeal.

Marcus Ball of Brexit Justice Ltd has applied for permission to appeal directly to the country’s top court after two High Court judges threw the case out in a scathing ruling.

The highly unusual private criminal prosecution, made possible by thousands of donors contributing £570,000 in crowdfunding over three years, centred on statements made by the now Prime Minister when spearheading the Vote Leave campaign in 2016.

Vote Leave’s most eye-catching claim, repeated by Johnson, was that “we send the EU £350 million a week” in membership fees. This, some argue, was incorrect because it ignored the UK “rebate”, a discount on membership deducted at source.

Twenty-nine-year-old Ball made headlines when a district judge agreed to issue a summons against Johnson for misconduct in public office. But Johnson immediately challenged that decision in the High Court, which threw the prosecution out in June.

In its written judgment, released on 3 July, the court found that the crime of misconduct in public office was about “neglect of duties or abuse of state power. No authority was shown to us suggesting that the offence can be or has been equated to bringing an office into disrepute or misusing a platform outside the scope of the office”.

The latest comments from across Legal Cheek

Announcing the appeal bid, Ball said that “we believe that we have a duty to the public to ensure that the proper limits of the offence are defined”. He added that the High Court’s decision was “contrary to other commonwealth countries and leading academic commentators”.

The High Court can grant permission for a leapfrog appeal if the case involves a point of law of general public importance and either “the proceedings entail a decision relating to a matter of national importance” or is “so significant” that the judge thinks the Supreme Court should have a look at it.

Ball had told Legal Cheek last month that an appeal was “highly likely”. In the course of an exclusive interview, the Canterbury Christ Church University graduate also said that the final failure of the case would see him “ruined” financially.

Despite this announcement, those hoping to see Johnson in the dock are likely to be disappointed. If the High Court grants permission to appeal directly to the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court must still decide whether or not to hear the case. If it did, and decided in Ball’s favour, the case would still only be in the preliminary stages in the criminal courts and could be struck out by the Crown Court before trial.

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Newsletter

83 Comments

Anonymous

He looks like Patrick Dempsey.

Anonymous

So does your mum

Anonymous

How can LC write that “We send £350m to the EU” is factually incorrect when it was completely correct. Of course, that doesn’t mean we were £350m out of pocket because of the rebate, but how often do politicians give the whole context of their claims?

In days gone by, Vote Leave would have been attacked in the media for being deliberately misleading. It wouldn’t have led millions to lose their minds and donate thousands to absurd vanity projects like this.

Alex



ORANGE MAN BAD!!!!!

Does that answer your question?

Casual Observer

#Eatonmanbad

Anonymous

looks quite fit….. this glossy pic….

Trainee

Why are we not prosecuting the misleading remainer MPs who lied to the public on every occasion.

Associate

Now back to work

Anonymous

Because it’s cool to be a woke leftist and oppose the orange men (Trump and BoJo) at every turn…

Anonymous

Vote Leave’s most eye-catching claim, repeated by Johnson, was that “we send the EU £350 million a week” in membership fees. This was factually incorrect because it ignored the UK “rebate”, a discount on membership deducted at source.

It wasn’t incorrect. Irrespective of what we receive back, we still send the money, that’s how rebates work, you pay it then claim/receive it back.

If he had said ‘the EU costs us £350M’ etc… then it would be a different situation. If we people were stupid enough to make donations so that he could have a sabbatical in London at their expense then so be it. I can’t help but feel that a prompt security for costs application cut conclude this action.

Anonymous

Exactly; newspapers frequently report critically about public figures paid from taxes, such as BBC presenters or local authority chief executives, proclaiming that they are “paid £XXX thousands a year”. Using Marcus Ball’s pretzel logic, this would be defamatory because that figure will be subject to income tax and a significant proportion of the headline figure will be rebated to the Treasury, so actually the fat cat is only “paid” about half that amount.

Given Ball’s frequent lachrymose protestations of poverty, a security for costs application looks in order.

B Ridhiwani

£350m a week has never been sent to Brussels. It was an absolute lie. And it is an even bigger lie to suggest it would all be available to spend on the NHS when there would be replacement funding to be committed to agriculture, regional development and the set up and running of countless regulatory bodies (including regulation of medicines) if we are not part of the EU. And that does not even reflect the detrimental impact on the economy as a whole (likely to take 25 years to overcome) so that tax revenue drops and hence public spending has to be cut again and again and again. Democracy dies when politicians can lie and get away with it.

Anonymous

In which case, under New Labour democracy was stabbed, hanged, poisoned and garrotted. Then they dug up democracy’s corpse and decapitated it. Before burning it.

How Remainers can whinge about truth after three terms of New Labour – Remainers’ spiritual home – is a wonder. There has never been a more mendacious political movement.

Corbyn’s Labour is much more dangerous, but its nastiness and stupidity is at least paraded candidly. New Labour’s dishonesty is unsurpassable.

Anonymous

The appeal decision observed that the figure quoted by Leave would have been unobjectionable if it had been expressed as a gross sum rather than net.

Since Rafferty LJ and Supperstone J shot down the foundation of the factual case against Johnson as well as (as was expected) the legal basis of the prosecution, there’s nothing left for the Supreme Court to hear.

Anonymous

Said in obiter dictum (‘Oh, and by the way, … ‘).

What the High Court (Administrative Court) actually ruled in their judgment was that the District Judge had no power to issue summons requiring Mr Johnson to appear on the supposed evidence submitted by Marcus Ball in his application to prosecute. Ball had submitted no evidence other than one single letter (supposedly) from/issued by Sir David Norgrove, with an electronic signature. (Inadmissible in a criminal trial if Marcus Ball cannot actually prove in a trial that Sir David Norgrove actually personally wrote it.)

There was no trial, and it wasn’t the job of the High Court to ‘clear’ Boris Johnson.

Anonymous

Yes, it was a JR. Wrongly, if colloquially, described as an appeal.

Nowhere did I say there had been a trial or that anyone was ‘cleared’.

As to the gross/net point, see para 25: “It appears that if the Claimant had said/endorsed a figure of £350m per week gross, or £250m per week net, there would have been no complaint.”

So that’s the extent of the alleged ‘misconduct’.

And – by the way – the court quashed the decision below because the ingredients of the offence weren’t made out and the summons was outside the scope of the offence.

Oh yeah, and the Admin Court would also have quashed the DJ’s decision on the basis that her finding against the prosecution being vexatious was flawed.

Not sure what letters have to do with this. There’s nothing about that in the judgment at all.

Anonymous

The letter was cited as Marcus Ball as (the sole) evidence in the original prosecution application… since it was anyway inadmissible, the High Court (Admin) quite rightly sidestepped in altogether. Not really proper or right for the High Court to drag Sir David Norgrove into all what they branded as ‘vexatious’ unless they absolutely had to.

Anonymous

*by

Anonymous

*it

Anonymous

PS: That JR was to all intents and purposes an appeal. I did not suggest or imply otherwise.

Anonymous

Your comment is wrong in some ways, because ultimately the High Court did not demolish ‘the facts’ in the original private prosecution case… they simply partially sidestepped it all because that wasn’t a strictly-speaking a true appeal, but a Public Law challenge and an ultra vires claim against the decisions and determination of the District Judge and the summons issued.

Anonymous

The judges didn’t side-step the facts, even partially. If they’d wanted to do that they’d have avoided any comment on them. The Court made it as plain as possible that this was a case it considered feeble on its facts, as well as formally holding the summons legally unsound.

When a JR pours cold water on the facts of an action it’s generally best not to trouble the courts further, even if – unlike here – it’s not quashed for other reasons.

But as far as it goes you’re right – technically. It was a public law challenge on vires, not an appeal.

Anonymous

‘Obiter dictum’. The ‘facts’ can only be fully addressed and settled in a full criminal trial.

Not ‘legally unsound’ but downright ‘out of order’, that they ruled that it had never been lawfully or validly issued, not just ‘it should not/never have been issued’.

It is and it isn’t an appeal, and it is also a vires JR. Not really a contradiction.

That person who insisted upon (in the middle?) that Belhaj means Marcus Ball is in principle barred from appealing this further as criminal cases/causes and/or matters/proceedings, is obviously not the full shilling!

Anonymous

PS: It was in a one-sentence in a two-line, two sentence paragraph. Guido Fawkes is not a QC himself, and neither is (or was if he still works there after the Summer!) Tom or anyone else, not even remotely connected to the legal profession!

Z1

Why have you deleted my factually true comment?

He spent the money on his fancy London apartment, self-defence classes and photoshoots.

And clearly spent some of the money paying LegalCheek for more positive publicity.

Dead Horse

Please stop flogging me Marcus.

Anonymous

How can he appeal to the Supreme Court? Did he actually manage to get a certificate from the High Court?!

Anonymous

You can ask the Supreme Court to hear a leapfrog appeal without a certificate I think. But they almost always so no.

Anonymous

(say)

Anonymous

Not in a criminal cause or matter. If the High Court does not grant a certificate that is the end of the road and the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction to do anything.

Anonymous

See paragraph 12.2.5 of the Supreme Court Practice Direction

Anonymous

An appeal against a successful JR appealing against the decisions and determinations of the DJ (and summons issued) are NOT ‘Criminal Proceedings’, hence 12.2.5 does not apply.

Anonymous

An appeal against a successful JR is a civil, not criminal, matter.

Anonymous

Is still a criminal cause or matter as the JR was in relation to the powers of a Magistrates Court in criminal proceedings.

Anonymous

Is the District Judge herself on trial?!

You need to quit Law ASAP, you are just no good at it!

Anonymous

No, that is not right. See, for example Belhaj at [15] – [16]

15. In my opinion, the Appellants are entitled to succeed on this appeal because in its ordinary and natural meaning “proceedings in a criminal cause or matter” include proceedings by way of judicial review of a decision made in a criminal cause, and nothing in the context or purpose of the legislation suggests a different meaning.

16. The High Court’s review jurisdiction extends in principle to the exercise of any official’s functions in relation to the criminal process. These include police decisions to investigate or charge… decisions of prosecutors whether or not to prosecute, or of the Director of Public Prosecutions whether to consent to a prosecution and decisions of the Attorney General whether to take over a prosecution or enter a nolle prosequi… It follows that judicial review as such cannot be regarded as an inherently civil proceeding. It may or may not be, depending on the subject-matter.

That was not a decision on s. 1 AJA 1960 but it is absolutely beyond any doubt whatsoever that the Supreme Court will decide exactly the same way here.

Anonymous

PS: The phrase ‘criminal cause or matter’ (Belhaj & Anor v DPP [2018] UKSC 33) refers specifically to s. 6 of the Justice and Security Act 2013, re ‘closed material’ disclosed only to the court. Forget about the old Judicature Acts unless you are a retired QC teaching law in Uni!

Anonymous

Wrong again. The phrase “criminal cause or matter” features in s. 1 of the AJA 1960 and s. 18(1) of the Senior Courts Act 1981 in relation to rights of appeal. See Belhaj at paragraph [18]

18. The Director and the Secretary of State accept, as they must, that these decisions are unimpeachable authority for the proposition that the application for judicial review is a proceeding in a criminal cause or matter for the purpose of any right of appeal. Indeed, that is the basis on which the present question comes before us on appeal from the Divisional Court, instead of going to the Court of Appeal.

Anonymous

Then why are you afraid to disclose the name of your chambers (better still, get a column here), if you are so sure/confident about your so-called legal points?

Anonymous

‘Is still a criminal cause or matter as the JR was in relation to the powers of a Magistrates Court in criminal proceedings’… that ship has sailed. This appeal would be against the judgment of the Administrative Court (a civil court), on points of law only; not a ‘re-hearing’ of Boris Johnson’s successful JR appeal application.

Marcus Ball would be required (and would indeed only be allowed) to argue that the Administrative Court erred in law and/or acted unlawfully in quashing the summons and finding the District Judge and her decisions in general unlawful/outside her powers. The whole original Boris Johnson prosecution case is otherwise ‘off-limits’.

Anonymous

I don’t know why the article says this is a “leapfrog appeal”. It is an appeal from the High Court in a criminal cause or matter so goes directly to the Supreme Court or nowhere, and it can go to the Supreme Court only if the High Court certifies that it is a “point of law of general public importance is involved in the decision” (Administration of Justice Act 1960).

Anonymous

(1) It is just what it is, I suppose! You need to actually study Law instead of spending all day reading up Wikipedia.

(2) An appeal against a successful JR (which was Boris Johnson v the District Judge (ultra vires), not Boris Johnson v Marcus Ball (the merits of Ball’s case/evidence)) is always a civil, not criminal, matter; hence the Administration of Justice Act 1960 also does not apply.

(3) The UKSC can, after refusal, subsequently rule that the High Court should have granted permission and in effect ‘self-certify’ the appeal and directly grant permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Anonymous

You are wrong on all points.

A judicial review can be “in a criminal cause or matter” see Belhaj.

The Supreme Court cannot self-certify an appeal in a criminal cause or matter. That is why the Supreme Court practice direction expressly states (correctly) that “In cases where the court below has not certified a point of law of general public importance, the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction (see Gelberg v Miller [1961] 1 WLR 459, Jones v DPP [1962] AC 635).”

Anonymous

Correction – The Supreme Court cannot self-certify an appeal in a criminal cause or matter *from a decision of the High Court*

Anonymous

For (AND ONLY FOR) the (limited/specific) purposes of the Justice and Security Act 2013, s 6 (but not otherwise).

Anonymous

Wrong.

Anonymous

‘Judicial review therefore cannot be regarded as an inherently civil proceeding.’ JRs are still civil proceedings. The UKSC did not rule otherwise.

I think you probably do need some remedial lessons on legal ‘semantics’, and the wider implications as to any possible (and commonly/generally accepted) meaning. You are beginning to sound like those ‘freemen on the land’ types, if I may say so!

Benny Goodman

Not difficult to spot the non-lawyer in this interaction. Criminal cause or matter is a technical term with a specific meaning. You don’t even need to read Belhaj/bother to look up the law – the previous comments have copied and pasted in the relevant paragraphs from the Belhaj judgment for you. Just read them.

Anonymous

As if an actual lawyer would ever leave comments on LC under his/her own real name, ‘Benny’!

Anonymous

The CPS deals with ACTUAL criminal proceedings (you seem to use ‘criminal proceedings’, ‘criminal cases’ and ‘criminal causes and matters’ interchangeably)… Marcus Ball does not.

The High Court’s judgment means, as far as the courts are concerned, that there was (retrospectively) NEVER any valid lawful criminal proceedings to start with.

Throwing up random past cases you could find from the CPS’s website (when you obviously are not in possession of the actual case law) doesn’t make you an actual top criminal Silk!

Anonymous

‘Marcus Ball is not allowed to appeal because of the Belhaj judgment’ = Wednesbury unreasonable.

(‘A reasoning or decision is Wednesbury unreasonable (or irrational) if it is so unreasonable that no reasonable person acting reasonably could have made it (Associated Provincial Picture Houses Ltd v Wednesbury Corporation (1948) 1 KB 223)’.)

Lord Diplock (Council of Civil Service Unions v Minister for the Civil Service): ‘So outrageous in its defiance of logic or accepted moral standards that no sensible person who had applied his mind to the question to be decided could have arrived at it.’

Anonymous

From the actual judgment:

[16.] The first point taken by Mr Jason Coppel QC, for the IP, is that the claim raises no public law challenge (other than on the issue as to whether the application is vexatious).

[17.] We do not accept this submission. The Administrative/Divisional Court, acting speedily and by granting interim relief, is exercising its supervisory jurisdiction over an inferior court.

Public Law challenge in England and Wales is fundamentally/inherently a civil matter, so is ‘exercising its supervisory jurisdiction over an inferior court’.

Anonymous

s. 151 of the Senior Courts (originally the Supreme Court) Act 1981:

“Cause” = “any action or any criminal proceedings”

“Matter” = “any proceedings in court not in a cause”

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1981/54/section/151
https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1981/54/section/151/enacted

The High Court’s (Admin) July judgment meant (and must be interpreted accordingly, as) ‘void’ and not simply ‘[a]voidable’.

Anon

He really is a true sufferer of Brexit Derangement Syndrome…

Brexit Dave

As a member of the victimised white working class, I want the bloody revenge promised to me by the referendum result.

C. Urmudgeon

This is an excellent waste of money isn’t it? I’m sure the Sumpremes wpuld love to waste a day or two on the difference between net and gross. It’s not like there are children or commercial cases needing resolving.

Anonymous

Not sure they could even if they wanted to… the Supreme Court would only hear an appeal if Marcus Ball could present a case explaining how the two Justices at the Administrative Court had somehow erred in law or acted unlawfully, or both… the Supreme Court will not otherwise ‘re-hear’ the Boris Johnson JR appeal or hear the original Boris Johnson prosecution case.

Anonymous

Now this is interesting – Ball states on his Crowdfunder page:

“The High Court then judicially reviewed this decision and concluded that the Magistrates’ Court decision should be quashed. However, they only had 3 days to make their decision on our written submissions which amounted to more than 100,000 words. We argue that they have made several key errors in law as a result of the unfair time restrictions placed upon them.”

What really happened, as per the judgement was:

“10. The DJ received written and oral submissions from the Claimant. She was given by the IP [Marcus Ball] an explanatory note signed by Lewis Power QC setting out details of the alleged offences and background circumstances. It included the author’s approbation of the stance of the IP [Marcus Ball], his analysis and interpretation of how the law applied to the Claimant and the attribution of blame to him. We felt confident in our ability to decide the case without reference to it.”

https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/2019ewhc-1709-admin-johnson-v-westminster-mags-final.pdf

This is the analysis and interpretation referenced above – https://uploads.strikinglycdn.com/files/3902ffb3-31e2-43b2-8be0-563aad9df9e8/Brexit%20Justice%20Case%20Overview%20Document%20(44,000%20words).pdf?id=130273

So the reality is that the judges thought Ball’s work was a load of er…balls. Remember that he isn’t a legal professional and has doesn’t even have a law degree.

Random passer-by

I think the UK is better off in the EU. Having said that, we need to try to leave, with a deal, and close this chapter. This pillock Marcus Ball needs to stop wasting people’s money and quit delaying the inevitable. His academic achievements suggest he should be working on the shop floor at Marks and Spencers, his degree is about as useful as toilet paper.

Anonymous

Well, if all this was Marcus Ball’s idea and he is nit a think tank puppet, I take my hat off to him.

For all the hostility of the legal debate above on the criminal matter, MB had a deputy High Court judge presenting his case. Superb detail that – Jason Coppell QC.

I would like to see JC switch emphasis in the Supreme Court…there is no binding case which says that when an MP fronts a referendum campaign in public and is dishonest, that it is not misconduct in public office.

Such a precedent could only have been set once before in history, in 1970 odd, Peter Shore v Ted Heath, but they were never pulled before the court.

Neither PS, TH nor BJ can say that this was a private matter, or a matter concerning a corporation. It was a matter of state for all three.

Gore Vidal, in the book that Julian Assange was clutching when he was arrested, bemoans the loss of the US constitution and so the loss of the actual republic. That is what we are in danger of here.

Either the think tank fed Boris the truth, or it misled. All that will happen is next time the equivalent of PS, TH and BJ will be more vigilant before they copy and paste slogans. The think tank risk assessors will have overlooked misconduct in public office, thinking that the order of the day would be along the lines that you are not bound by an election pledge. An easy mistake to make and they were bailed out at first instance.

Belittling a deputy High Court judge and MB is very exciting but if you cannot test the law even with 570k and a top QC like JC undeniably is, it is a shame. We might as well build a bureaucracy around George Soros or the board of Goldman Sachs and fawn that their decisions are justice, at this rate.

Great if you are flying in one of their thermals, but a shame for those of us with inflamed scruples.

Kirkland NQ

Shut up beta cuck.

Kirkland NQ.

This isn’t me.

Kirkland NQ

I don’t put a full stop after my name you beta cuck

Anonymous

Yes there is. Attorney General’s Reference No 3 of 2003 [2004] EWCA Crim 868.

The misconduct must be in the course of the office (for a start). A Judge who lies on a judicial expenses form could commit the offence as the misconduct occurs in the course of his public office. A Judge who lies to his wife as he is having an affair could not commit the offence as the lie is not told in the course of his office. Boris was mayor of London and campaigning in a referendum. That is not in the course of his office. The mayor of London has no statutory power or duty requiring him to campaign in a referendum. He is not acting in the course of his office in doing so.

Anonymous

You can distinguish the facts of the 2003 case because it did not involve a referendum. If a case is distinguished, its ratio is not binding.
How I set it out above is how J C could win it, imo.

The Judges will have been vetted, I expect , and will not distinguish the case, so there’s no need to gnash your teeth. Those of us who are not in thrall to financiers shall mourn when the verdict is returned.

I would prefer to see BJ tried and prove his innocence, rather than win on a technicality … but perhaps he knows he cannot risk that course of action.

Anonymous

No you can’t. It is an element of the offence that the prosecution prove that the Defendant was acting in the course of his office. It is not a technical aquittal. You see to have no grasp of the requirement to prove each element of the offence. It is not a technicality that a person cannot be guilty of murder when the victim of the assault did not die. It is not a technicality that that a person cannot be guilty of that a person cannot be guilty of criminal damage where the property damaged was their own. It is not a technicality that a person cannot be guilty of rape where no penetration took place. These are elements of the offences of murder, criminal damage or rape which must be proved.

Defendants also do not have to prove their innocence.

Anonymous

Jason Coppel’s (one L) specialism isn’t English common-law criminal law, and he has already acted once (and unpaid/pro bono, and apparently without (direct/any) instructions from Marcus Ball… per Joshua Rozenberg re the proceedings), and the Administrative Court (also) shot his arguments out of the air.

I don’t think he would even CONSIDER accepting his instructions unless and until he is actually paid for his first appearance/work!

Anonymous

This is par for the course, though.

State justice is like state religion, it is not the real thing.

There are two camps…BJ can do what he likes, it is a important social economic and environmental endeavour, and the law and Judges will support him.

Or

The law maintains independent strong principles of government. One of these principles is that the value of the people is as great as its leaders and its leaders must be law abiding and moral. This particular law which MB is running supports that.

The latter view is anti think tank and , in the USA, it supports the constitution which many corporations and their cooperators do not like.

The former is the state view, and the view we can expect from the courts here, Coppel QC or a second six pupil.
It is still worthy of MB to be good defeated, rather than evil triumphant. It is also noteworthy that poor old Julian Assange bleated that we must keep our independence to the camera when he was arrested. JA is wrapped up in the same state justice phenomenon as BJ.

It is a shame that the merits are not clear over the sound of gnashing teeth, where BJ is concerned. He seems affable enough.

Anonymous

Nice rant, but all this is beside the point, because any appeal to the Supreme Court is STRICTLY limited to arguments that the High Court (Administrative Court) acted unlawfully (ultra vires) or Wednesbury unreasonably, or both. The Supreme Court would direct the appellant’s counsel to desist brining up the merits of the whole, wider original private prosecution ‘case’/application.

Anonymous

I see below that he works for a Labour MP. That triggers my get out clause !

I would have run the case differently to JC QC , given the freedom to do so. There needed to be novel submissions to create leeway for leave to appeal upon the inevitable defeat. You have JC boxed in, but I would have been too smart for that and so a new way to skin me would have been required !

Anonymous

The case is unarguable. Marcus Ball’s Twitter indicates that he is/they are going to appeal on procedural irregularities/misconduct of the Administrative Court by not considering his 100,000-word original submission(s). This is inadmissible and is bound to be refused, because an appeal is only allowed on errors on points of law.

Not sure if Jason Coppel QC or anyone else is going to make much difference. If anything, someone who specialises in EU law and human rights law might even further damage the prospect of any appeal, because the Supreme Court will NOT likely to take too kindly to some counsel ‘going round the houses’ and suggesting that the Administrative Court was in breach of the Human Rights Act or some EU law in some way when they granted Boris Johnson’s JR appeal application.

Anonymous

Let’s just hope the Supreme Court tell this oaf what’s what and put him in jail – then he won’t be able to illegally block indyref2

Only then will Scotland live free from tyranny

Kim Sanders-Fisher

My opinion on the legality of this case is irrelevant as I cannot claim to be a legal eagle, but appealing in order to win the case is not the only goal that might be accomplished here. Ball, and all of those who have contributed to fund this case, are rightfully incensed by the rampant increase in politicians who feel emboldened to deliberately lie to the voting public. They say that “if you are going to lie, tell a really big lie;” well Brexit has certainly spawned a few real whoppers!

I personally hope that the publicity generated by this case will finally give those who chose to serve us in public office considerable pause for thought. There is a tangible risk that, even if this particular case fails to secure an appeal or win an appeal, there are no guarantees that the next toxic piece of concocted misinformation or mangling of the facts will escape legal ramifications in future. In addition Marcus Ball’s crusade for justice has definitely helped to compensate for the current chronic journalistic deficit in holding our politicians to account; this endeavour should never have been so necessary.

Sadly we will be forced to endure several months of extreme shame and embarrassment with a pathological liar running our country into the ground. This case will at least prove that the rules and safeguards in place to defend the integrity of our democracy are way too lax with regard to combating blatant dishonesty by those obsessed with financial enrichment and the power of office. The UK will now suffer the chaotic consequences that will undoubtedly ensue under a seriously incompetent, insecure narcissist PM surrounded and influenced by dangerous bigots.

As with Trump in the US the Brits were far too gullible; it will probably get a whole lot worse before it gets better. Boris Johnson is our shock wakeup call that I hope will lead to an election, sensible government and a final say vote on a fair deal with the EU. Perhaps with a new government the British public will benefit from a complete overhaul of our voting system that must include strengthening of the rules regarding honesty and integrity in public office. Marcus Ball could be financially ruined by his decision to bring this case, but he should not think that his efforts were in vain.

Anonymous

The was no “chronic journalistic deficit in holding our politicians to account” in relation to the £350m – the gross/net issue was widely debated in the press at the time. It was a masterstroke by leave because frankly, whether it is £350m or £200m, it still seems like a vast amount of money. In the context of public finances, it is significant but not massive and has to be seen in the context of what it brings in terms of single market participation etc. but Remain were too thick or too scared to try to steer the debate onto the positive ground of what the £350m brings with it.

If you really are concerned about “the rules and safeguards in place to defend the integrity of our democracy” and not just a sad sufferer of Boris Derangement Syndrome, maybe you could persuade Mr Ball to retreat to his high security safe space and work on challenging the postal voting scams and fake voter registrations that really do imperil democracy.

Anonymous

Marcus Ball is himself an activist working under a Labour MP in South London, so good luck with that!

Kim Sanders-Fisher

Although it was not totally clear in my post the “chronic journalistic deficit in holding our politicians to account” was not referring to just the scrutiny of what was written on the side of that bus, it was the abysmal quality of UK investigative journalism in general. On the one hand the media relentlessly obsess over a ridiculously miniscule number of anti-Semitism complaints in the Labour party, while on the other many news outlets gloss over the nightmare logistics of a no deal Brexit as just “project fear” and a lack of positive thinking. But before you are tempted to rail in defence of the deliberate smearing of Labour and Corbyn, please look at the documented facts: just 0.1 %, of their 500,000 plus membership and not all complaints are even about actual party members. To put that in perspective, if following treatment you were told you were 99.9% Cancer free would you go home and catastrophize about being riddled with the disease? I am not a member of the Labour Party so I cannot be “thrown out” for expounding the truth.

Despite a lack of legal training, I am an astute critical thinker basing my judgement on cold hard evidence; you should endeavour to do the same. With regard to headline news of “postal voting scams and fake voter registrations” and their ability to imperil our democracy, the documented statistics on voter fraud do not indicate any significant problem in the UK. In acknowledgement of the publically accessible statistical facts on voting fraud, Government efforts to introduce voter ID requirements would be using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. In reality these proposals have more to do with disenfranchising as many eligible voters as possible in order to gerrymander the electorate in favour of continued Tory rule. This tactic has worked exceptionally well for the Republican Party in the US, purging minorities, the disadvantaged and students from voting all over the country. Personally, I want more democracy not less; better representation not rigged elections.

Please look at the evidence before swallowing the current propaganda pumped out by what is fast becoming one of the most disreputable press industries in the world. There are independent judgements on the level of press integrity and currently the UK is setting a very poor example. Even dear old “Auntie,” the BBC, can no longer be trusted with fair or truthful reporting. According to the BBC’s own complaints figures recorded a tenfold increase for the period 8-21 July, when 1,593 people lodged written complaints about a heavily biased Panorama program that broke many of their own rules on impartiality.

It would be great if the wealthy elite did not have an absolute strangle hold on manipulating the UK media for their own personal profit. I long for the day when Rupert Murdock does not decide who will be allowed to run our country, but most of us feel our votes simply do not count. A higher level of accountability from our politicians through a requirement for stricter adherence to the truth and increased media integrity are both long overdue. The Bell case has focused a spotlight on these issues and I thank him for it.

Anonymous

What you are basically saying in your rambling piece is that politically-motivated vexatious lawsuits should be allowed…

Kim Sanders-Fisher

Absolutely not! If the case was indeed vexatious it would not have proceeded thus far, but that decision is in the hands of well qualified lawyers which I am not. With your commentary you imply that all litigants who lose their case must have had vexatious intent… Not a good fit for someone who wants to practice law.

I just made the point that there might well be beneficial consequences win or lose. Let us hope that dismissing the case on what could be a technicality does signal to politicians that any BS is just fine with zero ramifications for lying in future. Perhaps those in public office will think carefully before lying so blatantly to the electorate; that would be a good thing, but perhaps you disagree?

Anonymous

The High Court (Administrative Court) DID rule that original private prosecution application made by Marcus Ball (the proposed prosecution application, not Marcus Ball himself as litigant) was politically-motivated and hence vexatious. See Paragraph 46 of the judgment.

They also ruled that Marcus Ball in effect invented his own personal legal definition of what constituted misconduct in public office (Para 17 and otrs).

For there to be a lie, there has to the (absolute/incontrovertible) truth; and in politics, there is usually no absolute truths determinable, hence lies and lying are almost impossible to establish, much less in court and ‘beyond any reasonable doubt’. See the old Ghosh Test (now since modified/partially abolished) regarding Fraud (the objective and subjective tests) in English law.

Any proposed private prosecution is anyway likely to fail, because Sir David Norgrove, the head of the ONS, whose letter was cited by Mr Ball as evidence, would (normally) be required to give evidence in court, but as a public officeholder in a non-CPS-sanctioned private prosecution, he is bound to refuse.

Anonymous

All I know if I have never met a Brexiteer I like or that I wanted to employ.

Anonymous

It’s been interesting for me, as someone with no experience of the legal profession, apart from jury service, to read their take on this action. I guess that ultimately, if this action manages to successfully jump through all the hoops, it will end up in front of jury, composed of around a dozen ordinary everyday folk.
My take on Ball is that he is an opportunist and self publicist, who originally jumped onto the anti Brexit bandwagon, then having realized that a politically motivated prosecution wasn’t going to cut the mustard with the judges, changed tack and rebranded it as a ‘lying in politics’ action.
Ball’s Crowdfunding has involved around three fundraising campaigns, an earlier campaign stating: “Prosecute dishonest Brexit politicians and bring integrity back to British politics.#BrexitJustice”, to the latest version: “We aim to set a precedent against lying in politics in common law jurisdictions worldwide.”
His current Crowdfunding page has a target of £500k with 28 days left to run; around £130k short of target, and with Ball appealing for more cash as he “hasn’t enough money to complete the legal challenge.”
Strangely, on his Crowdfunder updates, Ball refers to himself in the third person, and also mentions Brexit Justice Ltd as if it were some other supporting entity, but which in reality, is Ball himself.
It’s also noteworthy that a significant portion of the dwindling numbers of Crowdfunder supporters who have pleged money appear to have crowdfuded other anti Brexit projects, which could suggest that much of his financial support might also be politically inspired.
I suspect that if this gets as far as a jury, the Remainers on the jury may or may not pass a guilty verdict, but the Brexiteers will certainly smell a rat and throw it out.
I cannot see how this action could ever reach a fair verdict.

Anonymous

I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over it. The people who say this would ultimately go to the Crown Court for trial are obviously not criminal barristers.

This proposed prosecution, in legal terms, is actually more complex/complicated than a ‘simple’ murder trial.

Join the conversation

Related Stories