Brexit: Crowd-funded legal case wants to see politicians jailed for 'lying' during referendum campaign

Founder of campaign to take 'lying' Brexit politicians to court, tells The Independent he would like to see public figures jailed

Siobhan Fenton
Social Affairs Correspondent
Friday 14 October 2016 17:30
Marcus Ball founded the Brexit Justice campaign
Marcus Ball founded the Brexit Justice campaign

A crowd-funded project to prosecute politicians for “lying” during the EU referendum campaign has raised over £175,000 and now wants to see dishonest politicians jailed, the project’s founder has told The Independent.

Marcus J. Ball, who founded the Brexit Justice campaign, says his team of lawyers are now building a case to take politicians to court to be held accountable for “dishonest” claims about Brexit. He set up the group online following the EU referendum citing his frustration at what he feels were misleading claims from some politicians during the campaign. After appealing for donations, he received more than £145,000 for legal fees as well as a salary of £32,000 for him to lead the project full time.

Speaking to The Independent, Mr Ball admitted the project is a “highly ambitious and difficult challenge”. However, he believes it is essential to make politicians accountable for broken promises: “We need to end this bizarre relationship we have with politicians, they are not untouchable. They are not above the law.”

The 27-year-old, from Norwich, says the group wants to “set a legal precedent in the common law that prevents political leaders from lying to the public in the future. We also want to challenge the legitimacy of Brexit by legally establishing that it resulted from criminal wrongdoing on both sides.”

Mr Ball said he is unable to discuss at this stage which politicians he will be singling out as the focus of the legal action. He told The Independent: “Now our solicitors have to build the case and formally instruct barristers, including some formidable QCs”.

Following the referendum result, a number of politicians distanced themselves from a controversial Leave campaign pledge that £350 million a week given to the EU could be redirected to the NHS. The pledge had infamously been projected onto buses in the build-up to the referendum. Hours after the referendum result, Ukip leader Nigel Farage said the pledge was “a mistake” and denied making it.

Mr Ball said legal action against British politicians will show members of the political establishment they must be held accountable for broken promises. He said: “When politicians lie, democracy dies. Your vote means nothing if you can’t trust the leader you are voting for. We need to show politicians of this country what’s acceptable and what’s not…I can’t decide what happens to them, but if I could… prison.”

The High Court is currently hearing a challenge to Brexit which claims Parliament must be consulted before Article 50 is triggered. The case is comprised of a number of different groups, including the crowd-funded People’s Challenge which raised money online to take the legal action. The case began on Thursday, with the challengers’ lawyers telling the court legal precedent states that only parliament can take away rights which have been granted to British citizens; meaning Theresa May cannot trigger Article 50 without parliamentary approval. The case continues on Monday and Tuesday when the Attorney General will argue the Government’s case.

In Northern Ireland, a separate case is being considered by the High Court, arguing the Prime Minister must consult the devolved Assembly before EU withdrawal due to the negative impact Brexit could have on the Northern Irish peace process.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments