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Judges throw out Brexit case against UK PM candidate Johnson

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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.

[LONDON] 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.

Last month, a judge said Mr Johnson must appear in court over allegations he lied about Brexit by claiming during the 2016 rerferendum that Britain would be £350 million (S$607.3 million) a week better off outside the EU.

But judges overturned that decision at a judicial review hearing.

Judges Anne Rafferty and Michael Supperstone issued the decision after hearing a challenge from Mr Johnson’s legal team who said the prosecution was the culmination of a "politically-motivated" process.

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The spending claim was just a “political claim open to - and available to - contradiction,” Johnson’s lawyer Adrian Darbishire said at the hearing.

“Misconduct is about secret abuse, corruption,” Mr Darbishire said. “This was a figure that as soon as it was said was disputed, it was batted to and fro.” Voters could simply choose to discount the claim if they wanted to do so, he said.

The decision all but ends campaigner Marcus Ball’s attempt to bring a prosecution. The 29-year-old, who was crowdfunding the attempt said last month that Mr Johnson had acted in a "irresponsible and dishonest" manner and engaged in criminal behavior.

Lawyers said the prosecution attempt was always a long-shot.

"Frankly to prosecute a politician for making allegedly false or misleading claims during a political campaign would have been not only legally remarkable but without precedent," said Andrew Smith, a partner at Corker Binning.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG