Boris Johnson prosecution bid ‘vexatious’, High Court told

May to stand down as Conservative Party leader today

Judges at London's High Court on Friday threw out an attempt to prosecute Boris Johnson, the frontrunner to succeed Theresa May as prime minister, for allegedly lying about Brexit.

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.

A crowd-funded campaign was trying to prosecute him, claiming he lied when he said that Britain sends £350million a week to the EU.

Johnson's lawyers argued the prosecution was politically motivated, and said the 350 million figure "was just a political claim" that voters could accept or reject.

He has crowdfunded more than £300,000 through an online campaign to bring the prosecution.

The £350 million figure was emblazoned on the red campaign bus used by Vote Leave during the referendum, with the slogan saying "We send the European Union £350 million a week, let's fund our NHS instead".

Mr Darbishire told the court that the making of false statements "must be as old as political campaigning itself" and that Mr Johnson's use of the £350 million figure could not be characterised as misconduct.

More news: Mexican police intercept 1000 strong caravan headed for US

The omens looked grim for Ball from early on, with Mr Justice Supperstone seeming "very sympathetic" to Adrian Darbishire QC's submissions on behalf of Johnson.

The judge said reasons for the court's ruling will be given at a later date.

"Freedom of speech feels increasingly challenged - we should always seek to debate political arguments in the open rather than close them down", said Britain's home secretary.

A previous court decision had agreed with the plaintiff that Johnson had a case to answer.

Johnson is now the favorite to succeed Theresa May, who steps down as Conservative Party leader Friday.

The case could potentially have damaged his bid to replace May, who stepped down as Conservative leader on Friday although she will remain prime minister until a successor is selected.

Mr Johnson, a former Foreign Secretary, was handed a summons to attend Westminster Magistrates' Court on 29 May.

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