Boris Johnson, the leading candidate to succeed Theresa May as British Prime Minister, has won a High Court challenge against allegations he lied to the public during the 2016 Brexit referendum campaign, according to the UK’s Press Association news agency.
Johnson, a former UK foreign secretary and a high-profile face of the campaign for Britain to leave the European Union, was accused of falsely stating that Britain’s membership of the bloc cost £350 million ($442 million) a week.
The controversial claim was plastered on the side of a bus that toured Britain during the tightly fought campaign that resulted in a 52-48% vote for Brexit.
Judges at London’s High Court on Friday quashed the attempt to prosecute Johnson, after a judge at Westminster Magistrates’ Court ruled on May 29 that he must face a private summons on three counts of misconduct in public office, according to PA.
Johnson’s barrister, Adrian Darbishire QC, told the High Court that the private prosecution was politically motivated and hence vexatious.
“The problem of false statements being made in the course of political campaigning is not new and has not been overlooked by parliament,” Darbishire said. “But parliament specifically chose not to do what the [private prosecutor] now seeks to achieve.”
According to PA, Lady Justice Rafferty addressed Johnson’s barrister, saying: “We are persuaded, Mr. Darbishire, so you succeed, and the relief that we grant is the quashing of the summonses.”
The judge said reasons for the court’s ruling will be given at a later date.
Speaking outside court, Marcus Ball, who lodged the summons, said he would wait to see the reasons for the decision before deciding what to do next, according to PA.
Ball added: “We have just given the green light for every politician to lie to us about our money forever. That is a terrifying idea.”
Meanwhile, Home Secretary Sajid Javid tweeted that he was “very glad to see the court case against @BorisJohnson thrown out.”
CNN’s Cristiana Moisescu contributed to this story.