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Ukip members cleared over electorial fraud

Two Ukip members have been cleared over any involvement in an alleged electoral fraud relating to council elections in Norfolk.

The men had been standing trial alongside Matthew Smith, the Norfolk County Council member for Gorleston St Andrews who had been selected to stand for parliament in the target seat of Great Yarmouth at the next general election.

The charges relate to county council elections in the Yarmouth area in May 2013, when Smith stood for election and acted as Ukip's electoral agent.

Fellow Ukip members Michael Monk from Hopton, and 19 year old Daniel Thistlethwaite from Belton, had both denied one charge of making a false statement in nomination papers. They were found not guilty by a jury at Norwich Crown Court.

Smith from Gorleston, has denied six counts of making a false statement in nomination papers knowing that they contained false signatures and three of making false nomination papers.

The jury is still considering its verdicts on those charges.

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Public to contribute to UK constitution

King College, Cambridge Credit: PA Images

People in Cambridge are being asked to draft a new UK constitution.

It's to mark the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. The event is part of a 10-week internet project to give people a direct say on how the country should be run. It takes place at Cambridge University later today.

Human rights lawyer and IPA Director Professor Conor Gearty says the lack of a formal Constitution in the UK is the basis for the crowd sourcing project.

"With the public's help, we have already agreed on a set of values which will underpin a new Constitution. It is crucial that we get the views of ordinary people and not rely on academics or politicians to dominate the debate."

– Conor Gearty

Prime Minister David Cameron pledges to get more people back into work during Ipswich visit

David Cameron has pledged to get more people back into work. Credit: ITV News Anglia

The Prime Minister has been in the region this morning to launch one of the Conservative Party's key election pledges.

David Cameron visited the Ransomes agricultural machinery factory in Ipswich to set out the Tories' plans to get more people back into work, including cutting red tape for business, invest in infrastructure and creating 3 million new apprenticeships.

David Cameron was speaking at the Ransomes agricultural machinery factory. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"If we stick to the long-term economic plan, and we keep backing business, enterprise and skills, then we can go on creating jobs and get those unemployed people back to work."

– David Cameron, Prime Minister

Great Yarmouth: Former UKIP candidate Matthew Smith insists he didn't forge signatures

Matthew Smith.

A former UKIP parliamentary candidate for Great Yarmouth has insisted he didn't forge signatures on nomination papers for the county council elections in Norfolk in 2013.

Matthew Smith, the party's election agent at the time, told a jury at Norwich Crown there was no motive for him to do it and he had no idea who was responsible.

27-year-old Mr Smith from Gorleston, pleads not guilty to six counts of making a false statement in the papers.

He also denies three charges of making false nomination papers.

He said the prosecution appeared to be suggesting that he had a magical team of forgers hiding in his back pocket.

He insisted this wasn't the case and said it couldn't be ruled out that others had forged signatures to try and discredit him.

Because of the court case, Matthew Smith has stood down as a parliamentary candidate.

Two other men, 60-year-old Michael Monk from Hopton and 19-year-old Daniel Thistlethwaite from Belton, each deny one charge of making a false statement in nomination papers.

The trial continues.

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Ukip councillor denies forging grandmother's signature

Former Ukip councillor Matthew Smith arrives at Norwich Crown Court on the first day of his trial on January 5 Credit: PA

A former Ukip councillor on trial accused of electoral fraud has denied forging signatures on nomination forms - including those of his own grandmother, father and stepmother.

Matthew Smith, an ex-parliamentary hopeful for Great Yarmouth, is standing trial at Norwich Crown Court accused of six counts of making a false statement in nomination papers in May 2013.

Seven out of eight forms submitted by UKIP in that campaign were alleged to contain forged signatures and all 10 signatures on the nomination form for Magdalen ward candidate Matt Swann - including the three members of Smith's family - were found to be fake.

Smith, 27, of Gorleston, Norfolk, was asked in court to describe some of the people he is supposed to have collected signatures from.

He replied: "If you're going round an estate of mostly elderly people, one looks very similar to another - I know that sounds cruel but it's true."

In many of the cases, he was not personally responsible for collecting the signatures so could not say why they did not match records like passports and driving licenses.

Smith also denies three charges of making false nominations papers.

Two other men - UKIP member Michael Monk and Daniel Thistlethwaite are also on trial. Each deny one charge of making a false statement in nomination papers.

The trial continues.

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Council under fire for suggesting poorer people need more road safety education

Milton Keynes Council has come under fire after claiming that people on low incomes need to be better educated on road safety.

A report revealed that accident statistics were worse in certain Milton Keynes postcode areas.

It has been suggested that residents there are poorer - and therefore less used to vehicles.

People living in those areas say that's patronising and untrue.

Russell Hookey reports.

Parliament Education Service to support Election 2015 School Debate project

650 MPs will be elected to the House of Commons on Thursday May 7, 2015. Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive

The Parliament Education Service has announced it is supporting ITV News Anglia's Election 2015 School Debate project.

It will providing schools with access to relevant films and resources, useful information for holding a debate, running a mock election and plenty more.

The Parliament Education Service works closely with schools and students to inform, engage and empower young people to understand - and get involved in - parliament, politics and democracy.

"The ITV Regional News 'Election 2015 School Debate' project is a great way to help children build debating skills and engage them with the political process, which is especially relevant in this General Election year."

– Holly Greenland, Parliament's Learning Resources Manager.

Click here to head to Parliament's Education Service website where you'll find all the debate and election resources relevant for your school.

To find out more about the ITV News Anglia Election 2015 School Debate, click here.

Miliband says NHS is Labour's big focus

On the day that the Conservative Party unveiled their election manifesto, Labour has used the east to launch its attack, criticising David Cameron's failure to include the NHS at the top of his election pledges.

Ed Miliband was in Stevenage where he made it clear that the NHS is Labour's priority.

The health care system is likely to be a big election issue after a bleak start to 2015 for our health services...

  • Addenbrooke's in Cambridge was named as one of the worst performing for A&E waiting times in our region.

  • Major internal incidents were declared at Addenbrooke's and Peterborough City Hospital, with black and red alerts at others.

  • The private company running Hinchingbrooke in Huntingdon pulled out of its contract for the NHS Hospital.

Today Ed Miliband said Labour would turn around the fortunes of the NHS with more resources.

Click below to watch a report from Matthew Hudson:

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