Boris Johnson faces court over £350 million EU referendum lie

Boris Johnson before he boards the Vote Leave campaign bus in Truro, Cornwall. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA.Date set for court case which could prosecute Boris Johnson over £350 million EU referendum lie

The date has been set for a court case which will attempt to hold Boris Johnson to account for the £350 million claim told during the EU referendum campaign – and was plastered all over the big red battle bus.

The crowdfunded private prosecution was brought against the MP and former Vote Leave co-chair by Marcus J Ball.

It will take place at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on May 14th from 2.00pm, with the first hearing held in private, followed by a second public hearing shortly after.

Ball, the 29-year-old private prosecutor, has accused Johnson of abusing public trust in his office as Mayor of London and Member of Parliament by intentionally misleading the public with regards to how much money the UK spends on EU membership.

The statistic was criticised as misleading by the head of the UK Statistics Authority, who said that it was “a clear misuse of official statistics”.

Private prosecutor Marcus J Ball. Photograph: Supplied.
Private prosecutor Marcus J Ball. Photograph: Supplied.

A new study has found that a majority of voters (42%) believed the “we send the EU £350m a week – let’s fund our NHS instead” message to still be true. Just 36% believed it to be false, while 22% were unsure.

Researchers from King’s College London have concluded despite attempts to debunk the myths behind the message, it has had little impact on those that still believe in the figures.

Polling – carried out by Ipsos MORI – found that Conservative voters and pro-Brexit voters were the most susceptible to the £350m line. It found that 54% of Tory voters and 61% of Leave voters believed the claim compared with 33% of Labour voters and 22% of Lib Dem voters – and 23% of Remain voters. 

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Vote Leave’s Dominic Cummings said after the Brexit vote he believed that Leave would not have won the EU referendum without the NHS claims.

He said: “It was clearly the most effective argument not only with the crucial swing fifth but with almost every demographic”.

The use of the claim during the referendum campaign led to Sir Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, rebuking prominent Vote Leave campaigners.

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