BORIS Johnson approved a controversial move to suspend Parliament almost two weeks before he publicly announced it, a court has heard. 

A previously unseen memo from Number 10 adviser Nikki da Costa on August 15, headed “ending the session”, outlined a plan to prorogue Westminster from mid-September.

Mr Johnson indicated he was happy with the idea, and in a handwritten note dated the next day said: “The whole September session is a rigmarole introduced [redacted] to show the public that MPs were earning their crust, so I don’t see anything especially shocking about this proposition.” 

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The memos, which were only circulated to a small inner group, have been lodged at Edinburgh’s Court of Session amid an ongoing legal bid to stop Mr Johnson proroguing Parliament. 

A further note, written by Ms da Costa – No 10’s director of legislative affairs – on August 23, addressed the upcoming announcement and referred to a “handling plan”.

Aidan O’Neill QC, the lawyer acting for a cross-party group of more than 70 MPs and peers attempting to prevent Westminster’s suspension, insisted the court had been actively misled.

He said: “One presumes this is a document which was sent in the red box to the Prime Minister for him to read at his leisure in the evening of 15 August in which he says ‘yes’ to approaching the palace with a request for prorogation.”

He added: “That appears to be developing government policy as of 15 August, but this court was told nothing of that and was told in fact that this judicial review is academic, hypothetical and premature.”

He accused UK ministers of showing a “general disregard” by filing the documents at 10.55pm on Monday.

Mr O’Neill said: “The reality is that we have a Prime Minister who is seeking to hold office without accountability, it would seem, the better to use power without responsibility.

“That is not a situation which this court can permit.”

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Mr Johnson announced on August 28 that Parliament will be suspended for five weeks ahead of the Brexit deadline. 

However, a cross-party group of MPs and peers, led by SNP MP Joanna Cherry, want the Court of Session to rule this is unconstitutional. Similar legal cases have also been brought in London and Belfast. 

Mr O’Neill said the documents, which were submitted by the UK Government, showed the decision to prorogue Parliament was taken by the Prime Minister and his advisers, and not Cabinet. He compared this to “autocracy, one-man rule”. 

The QC also accused Mr Johnson of “incontinent mendacity” and “an unwillingness to acknowledge and speak the truth”. 

During a hearing last week, he suggested Mr Johnson should provide a statement to the court under oath, setting out his reasons for suspending Parliament. Mr Johnson did not do this.

David Johnston QC, who is acting for the UK Government, said the decision to prorogue Parliament was political and the courts should not interfere. 

He said: “This is an inherently political decision and the courts are not equipped to measure political judgements against legal standards.”

He added: “Parliamentary sovereignty means there are constraints not just on the executive, but also on the courts. 

“There’s a well established constitutional restraint that reflects that some territory is properly for Parliament, and some territory is properly for the courts.”

He said the decision to prorogue Parliament was taken for “lawful, relevant and legitimate” reasons. 

Lord Doherty said he would consider the case overnight and make a decision at 10am today. 

Ms Cherry said Mr Johnson is “increasingly culpable of downright deception and a litany of lies”.