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Former Ukip candidate cleared on first four counts of electoral fraud

Former Ukip candidate Matthew Smith Credit: ITV News Anglia

A former Ukip candidate has been cleared of four counts of electoral fraud in Norfolk, while two other party members have also been cleared over any involvement relating to council elections in 2013.

Matthew Smith was suspended from Ukip after allegations of forged signatures on nomination forms. Yesterday 60 year old Michael Monk from Hopton and Daniel Thistletwaithe who's 19 and from Belton were found not guilty at Norwich Crown Court. The jury is still considering a total of five charges against Mr Smith. He pleads not guilty.

  1. National

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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Ukip councillor to face electoral malpractice charges

UKIP councillor Matthew Smith.

A Ukip councillor and would-be MP who is set to be charged over electoral malpractice allegations involving forged nomination papers says he will deny all wrongdoing.

Matthew Smith, who was due to contest the Great Yarmouth seat in next year's general election, will appear in court next month.

The county councillor, who is 26 and from High Street, Gorleston, is set to face seven counts of supplying a nomination paper to a returning officer knowing it to contain a forged signature and three counts of producing forged nomination papers.

The allegations relate to nomination papers for Norfolk County Council elections held in the Great Yarmouth district between March and April last year.

Today Ukip said Mr Smith had been suspended from both the Ukip group on Norfolk County Council and as a prospective parliamentary candidate.

But the councillor said he would deny all the charges and criticised the way news of the allegations had been made public.

He said: "If I am charged - and I haven't been charged yet - I will be denying all charges. I'll be pleading not guilty to everything.

"I want to issue a real cause for concern that the press was made aware of these charges before I was."

In a statement Norfolk Constabulary today said three men in total had been reported for summons. The charges were authorised by the Crown Prosecution Service.

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Political journalist named lead UKIP candidate in the East

Patrick O'Flynn has been named lead UKIP candidate in the East of England for the 2014 European Elections Credit: UKIP

UKIP has named its list of candidates standing in the 2014 European Elections in the East of England.

At the top of the list of seven candidates is Patrick O'Flynn who is currently the Chief Political Correspondent at the Daily Express.

The current UKIP MEP for the East of England Stuart Agnew is second on the list with the head of the party's Policy Unit, Tim Aker third.

UKIP came second in the East of England in the 2009 European Elections with 20% of the vote.

UKIP celebrating strong vote in Anglia region

The UK Independence Party is celebrating a strong showing in early results in the county county elections in the Anglia region. UKIP gained 9 councillors in Essex ousting Conservatives who slumped to their worst performance in more than four decades.

Although the party has so far made no gains in Hertfordshire, its share of the vote in many electoral divisions is above 25%.

UKIP's candidate in Old Stevenage Sean Howlett said: "Speaking to the average person on the street they're just sick to death of the tired establishment parties and they want something new, something fresh with a common sense approach to politics."

The out-going leader of Essex County Council Peter Martin said: "On the doorstep we heard a lot of people protesting about the government at a national level and we're suffering obviously as I'm sure the whole country is."

Lucky seven for UKIP in Essex

UKIP now have seven Essex County Councillors for the following divisions:

  • Thundersley
  • Wickford Crouch
  • Laindon Park & Fryerns
  • Brightlingsea
  • South Benfleet
  • Rayleigh South
  • Basildon Westley Heights

The surge in support for the anti-EU party will severely dent the Conservative majority on the council which was the safest Tory council in the Anglia region.

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