Boris Johnson has been hit with a court judgment for an unpaid debt after a Covid conspiracy theorist bizarrely claimed he had repeatedly slandered her.
Official records revealed yesterday that the Prime Minister was being chased for failing to settle a £535 bill.
It initially appeared to be a fresh embarrassment for Mr Johnson, who is already facing an investigation by the Westminster watchdog over who paid for his £15,000 holiday to Mustique and three separate inquiries into who funded the lavish redecoration of his Downing Street flat.
But last night details obtained by the Daily Mail show that the potentially damaging court order relates to an unlikely allegation of slander.
The case was brought by an Yvonne Hobbs against ‘The Rt Hon Boris Johnson’ and she gave her reason for the debt as: ‘Committed repeated defamation.’
She used the Online Civil Money Claims service to state that the Prime Minister owed her £535.
But the Mail can reveal Miss Hobbs, 59, of Leicestershire, is a Covid conspiracy theorist who has launched multiple claims against Mr Johnson and public institutions. She often sends copies of her complaints to the Queen, the BBC, the House of Commons and House of Lords.
She declares ‘I’m taking on the Government’ on her social media.
She has launched legal actions against Marks and Spencer, Royal Mail, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and numerous public companies.
Another recent complaint to ‘wrongdoer’ Mr Johnson was also filed. Mr Johnson has never made a public statement referring to Miss Hobbs.
Because letters about the alleged debt were apparently sent to 10 Downing Street but went unanswered, a default County Court Judgment was issued on October 26 last year without any defence being offered. Online records show the debt is still ‘unsatisfied’, meaning it has not yet been paid.
Downing Street believes the claim is completely bogus and the CCJ should not have been issued.
It is understood that Mr Johnson had no idea about it until the first details were revealed by satirical magazine Private Eye yesterday. Defamation cases are meant to be dealt with by senior judges in the High Court, so questions will be asked about why the claim was approved by the online small claims court.
The correspondence was sent to 10 Downing Street rather than any property Mr Johnson owns, or 11 Downing Street, which is where his flat is. And it was not made under his real name, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.
A spokesman for No 10 said: ‘An application will be made for an order to set aside the default judgment, to strike out the claim and for a declaration that the claim is totally without merit.’
Under what used to be known as the small claims court procedure, anyone can make an official demand for another person or a business to pay them money owed. It costs as little as £25 to make an online court claim.
Details of the amount owed will then be sent by post to the debtor. But if they do not respond to requests to pay up, the county court can issue a judgment ordering them to do so.
A government website explains: ‘If you get a judgment, this means that the court has formally decided that you owe the money.’
A judgment also gives details of who to pay and how, and a deadline. If the judgment is also ignored, the claimant can try to force the debtor to attend court and provide evidence of their income.
They can even ask the court to send bailiffs round to collect the money.
The debtor is also likely to struggle to obtain a bank loan or mortgage if there is an outstanding CCJ against their name.
To have the judgment cancelled, a court hearing may be held at which the defendant will have to prove either they did not owe the sum or that the order had been issued incorrectly.
Asked whether there should be concerns about Mr Johnson’s personal finances, his press secretary said: ‘You should not be concerned, no.’