Prosecuting Boris Johnson

Leaving aside the double standards of the case, misuse of the law is not in anyone’s interests.

Proletarian writers

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Proletarian writers

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The Liberal Democrats fought the 2010 general election on a platform of abolishing university tuition fees. Students and their parents voted LibDem in great numbers, yet once in office the LibDems spat in the face of their voters and tripled tuition fees.

It doesn’t seem to have occurred to anyone to take the Liberal Democrats to court, as there is no law against lying in an election campaign.

Many might think there should be, and consequently many were pleased to learn that a remainer by the name of Marcus Ball was taking the pro-Brexit Boris Johnson to court for claiming that leaving the EU would have released £350m a week, which could be spent on the NHS (roughly an extra fiver a week for each man, woman and child in the country).

There has been no change in the relevant law since the LibDems so spectacularly reneged on their tuition fees pledge, and there is still no statute making lying in a campaign a criminal offence, but there is a law against ‘misconduct in public office’, and as Boris Johnson was either an MP or mayor of London when he made the claim, Marcus Ball last month brought a private prosecution against Boris Johnson for misconduct in public office, which carries a prison sentence on conviction.

On 7 June, the high court quashed the case, but the fact that it was allowed to be brought at all should cause us grave concern.

It is the first time any politician has been charged with this specific offence for telling an alleged lie. And while millions clapped and hooted because they dislike Boris Johnson and would be happy to see him hanged for stealing a handkerchief, others may wonder at how the law and judicial practice came to be stretched to allow the prosecution.

They might also wonder why only Boris Johnson was charged, as several other MPs supported the claim that on leaving the EU, Britain would have an extra £350m to spend on the NHS (or anything else).

They might wonder even more, if they read the Daily Mail of 29 and 30 May 2019, where alone among the mainstream newspapers it was revealed that as well as the consent of a district judge (in this case Margot Coleman of Westminster), a private prosecution brought on a charge of misconduct in public office has to be authorised by the attorney general under section 6 (1) of the Prosecution of Offences Act (POA) 1985 – the attorney general at the moment being Geoffrey Cox.

Now the fact that Margot Coleman was appointed when Tony Blair was prime minister does not mean she is an anti-Brexiter, but Geoffrey Cox is (at best) only in favour of the softest of Brexits, while Boris Johnson is the leading candidate among the ‘hard’ Brexiteers in the Tory party, as well as being the favourite in the current Tory leadership campaign for prime minister.

What better way to stymie Boris Johnson’s campaign than to charge him with misconduct in public office? Well, charging him with murder or paedophilia perhaps, but in the meantime ‘misconduct in public office’ will have to do.

No matter that there is neither law nor precedent, the anti-Brexiters no more care for law and precedent than they care for heeding the great unwashed who voted Brexit. Unfortunately, many soft and confused leftists, who purport to care about civil and human rights, are also just too anti-Brexit to care about the legality of the attempt at prosecuting Boris Johnson.

The prospect of seeing him bite the dust threw them into raptures and they were deliriously happy to throw principle to the wind, along with the age-old demand for justice under the law as written, rather than on the attorney general’s whim.

But make no mistake about it, no matter that Boris Johnson might be the devil incarnate, the prosecution of him for a bogus crime under a law – which no matter how far stretched does not apply – is a threat to the much-touted ‘rule of law’ itself and affects us all. It would be a return to the ‘justice’ of the Star Chamber and the personal rule of Charles I.

And we all know how that ended up. (Hmm, maybe not so bad after all.)

Editors’ postscript

Perhaps it is worth reflecting for a moment, as one of many examples, of former prime minister Tony Blair’s misconduct in public office.

What, for instance, of his claim that Iraq could target British citizens for attack by weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes?

What of his using this fabrication to mobilise Britain’s armed forces and wage an aggressive and illegal war, causing the devastation of another country?

What of the resultant ruining of Iraq’s environment, and the spread of radioactive waste over its surface, its air and its water, with all the horrifying effects on the Iraqi people’s health?

What of the devastation of Iraq’s homes, economy, civilian infrastructure, bridges, roads, communications, water and sewage treatment plants?

What of the cold-blooded murder of millions of our fellow human beings, principally Iraqi workers, and the displacement of millions more in the interests of profit and domination?

What of the British soldiers sacrificed to this murderous scheme for robbing another country of its oil wealth and sovereignty, under the false pretext of fighting a war for self-defence, and even, in the sickeningly hypocritical name of the human rights of its millions of murdered Iraqi victims?

What of the murder of Dr David Kelly, who was apparently bumped off in order to silence internal governmental critics of the ‘45-minute’ claim, which was questioned at the time, and has since been categorically proven to have been a deliberate falsification?

All these are real crimes under United Nations and international law. Would it not be more appropriate to prosecute Blair for ‘misconduct’ in public office?

Instead, and unbelievably, he was made the special envoy for peace in the middle east by the ‘quartet’ of (mainly) imperialist powers and assisted in amassing a private fortune estimated at £300m.

In fact, by any decent standard as understood by the working class, virtually all the members of our ruling class and their hired hands in parliament could and should stand criminal trial. But of course the working class is not being asked to make these decisions.

All this truly shows, regardless of the Hutton Inquiry and other such circuses, is that the British parliament in Westminster is the dictatorship of obscene wealth – not ‘democracy’ for ordinary British workers.