UK PM frontrunner dragged to court for lying

Boris Johnson, the frontrunner to become Britain’s next prime minister, must attend court over allegations that he knowingly lied during campaigning for the Brexit referendum, a judge announced Wednesday.

Johnson, the former foreign secretary, will be summoned to appear before a London court to face allegations of misconduct in public office, judge Margot Coleman said in a written decision without specifying the date.

The private prosecution is being brought over the 2016 claim that Britain sends £350 million ($440 million, 400 million euros) a week to the European Union.

The decision follows a hearing last week at Westminster Magistrates Court in London, during which lawyers for businessman Marcus Ball, who crowd-funded the bid, lodged an application to summon Johnson.

“The allegations which have been made are unproven accusations and I do not make any findings of fact,” Coleman said.

“Having considered all the relevant factors I am satisfied that this is a proper case to issue the summons as requested for the three offences as drafted.

“This means the proposed defendant will be required to attend this court for a preliminary hearing, and the case will then be sent to the crown court for trial. The charges can only be dealt with in the crown court.”

Johnson, a former London mayor, is running to replace Theresa May as leader of the governing Conservative Party, and therefore prime minister.

READ MORE: Contenders jockeying to replace May

Johnson was not present at last week’s hearing, but his lawyer Adrian Darbishire said the pro-Brexit figurehead staunchly denied acting in an improper or dishonest manner.

The maximum penalty for misconduct in public office is life imprisonment.

© Agence France-Presse

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