The idea that politicians are allowed to be less than completely assiduous with the truth is one which has been picked up and run with in recent times. The current president of the US has made a record number of screaming untruths, and the last Australian election surprised the populace with the discovery that lying in campaigns – which characterised most of the campaigns – is totally legal.
So it comes as something of a surprise that the man most likely to be the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom – Boris Johnson – will have to appear in court for allegedly lying about the benefits of Brexit ahead of the referendum that saw the UK choose to leave the European Union.
Specifically, he’s facing three charges of public misconduct in office in that he “used his position to mislead the public”, especially with his repeated and inaccurate claim that the National Health Service would reap £350 million a week supposedly sent to the EU.
Johnson is insisting that the case is politically motivated, although it’s been bubbling along for about three years now and the fact that it’s looking set to come to court at the same time that ol’ Boris is attempting to get the Tory leadership is just a delicious coincidence.
A summons to appear in court has now been issued, and the best part of this is that the offence (which was on the books in the 13th century) carried with it a threat of life imprisonment. Which could make campaigning difficult, in the admittedly unlikely event that the case succeeds in holding him responsible.
Will this be enacted here? Well, Australia wasn’t around in the 13th century and our laws are largely based on the English legal system so… hey, legal types, we might have ourselves a precedent!