Jury out in Ukip man’s fraud trial

The jury in the trial of a former Ukip parliamentary candidate for Great Yarmouth accused of West Flegg has retired to consider its verdict.

Matthew Smith, the Norfolk County Council member for Gorleston St Andrews who had been selected to stand for parliament in the key target seat of Great Yarmouth at the next general election, is one of three men standing trial at Norwich Crown Court over the alleged forgery scam.

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.

Prosecutors say that he submitted nomination forms for eight candidates that contained forged signatures in a bid to “cut corners”.

The 27-year-old – who had previously worked as a full-time administrator for the Conservatives – denies the charges, saying that he was the victim of a conspiracy.

Smith, who also stood as Ukip’s candidate in the elections for Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner, claimed that the genuine paperwork was replaced with forms containing forgeries after he fell out with his former Tory allies.

Judge Anthony Bate completed his summing up of the case and sent the jury out to deliberate shortly before midday.

Two other men – Ukip member Michael Monk and Daniel Thistlethwaite, who stood as a candidate in the West Flegg ward at the same election – are also on trial.

Monk, 60, of Freeman Close, Hopton, and Thistlethwaite, 19, of Station Road South, Belton, each deny one charge of making a false statement in nomination papers.

Smith, of High Street, 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.

Newmarket Journal


Ukip councillor on trial over fraud

A Ukip councillor and former parliamentary contender will stand trial today accused of offences linked to alleged electoral fraud.

Matthew Smith, 26, the Norfolk County Council member for Gorleston St Andrews who had been selected to stand for parliament for Great Yarmouth in the next general election, is one of three men due to appear at Norwich Crown Court.

Smith, of High Street, Gorleston, has denied six counts of making a false statement in nomination papers and three of making a false instrument with intent.

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

Michael Monk, 60, of Freeman Close, Hopton, and Daniel Thistlewaite, 19, of Station Road South, Belton, also both pleaded not guilty to one charge of making a false statement in nomination papers.

After standing down as Ukip’s prospective parliamentary candidate for the ward, currently held by Tory housing and planning minister Brandon Lewis, Smith said he was innocent of any wrongdoing.

He added: “I am sad to say that I am today stepping down as UKIP’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Great Yarmouth in light of the continuing court case.

“I believe that I owe it to the people of Great Yarmouth to have a UKIP candidate, democratically selected by the local branch members in due course, who is free from such distractions and can give the people of Yarmouth the time and attention that this case is depriving me from doing to deliver a famous Ukip win in 2015.

“I have written to my local party chairman to this effect.”

Belfast Telegraph


Matthew Smith steps down as UKIP’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Great Yarmouth

Matthew Smith

Matthew Smith

UKIP’s contender to take the Great Yarmouth constituency in the next general election has stepped down to fight electoral fraud charges.

Matthew Smith issued a statement the day he appeared at Norwich Crown Court to deny charges against him.

The Norfolk county councillor for Gorleston St Andrews division wrote: “I am sad to say that I am today stepping down as UKIP’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Great Yarmouth in light of the continuing court case.

“I will continue to fight this case knowing that I am innocent of all charges and it is a sad indictment that this case has taken such an unusually long time to progress.

“However I believe that I owe it to the people of Great Yarmouth to have a UKIP candidate, democratically selected by the local branch members in due course, who is free from such distractions and can give the people of Yarmouth the time and attention that this case is depriving me from doing to deliver a famous UKIP win in 2015.

“I have written to my local party chairman to this effect.”

Mr Smith today denied six counts of making a false statement in nomination papers.

The councillor also denied three counts of making a false instrument with intent.

The charges relate to nomination papers put forward in the Norfolk County Council elections held in the Great Yarmouth district between March and April, last year.

Smith, 26, of High Street, Gorleston, appeared alongside Michael Monk and Daniel Thistlewaite.

Monk, 60, of Freeman Close, Hopton, and Thistlewaite, 19, of Station Road South, Belton, also both pleaded not guilty to one charge of making a false statement in nomination papers.

The case was adjourned and all three have been given bail.

A trial date has been fixed for January 5, next year.

Norwich Evening News


Ukip has lost almost one in 10 county councillors who won seats in 2013

Farage. Photograph: David Cheskin/PA

Farage. Photograph: David Cheskin/PA



Farage’s party down by 12 county representatives out of 139, just a year on from May 2013 poll, Guardian research shows

Ukip has lost almost one in 10 of the county councillors who won their seats when the party made a breakthrough at last year’s local elections, research by the Guardian has found.

A year on from the May 2013 poll, the party is down by 12 county representatives out of the 139 who were elected.

The majority of new Ukip county councillors appear to have been working actively in their communities over the past 12 months, with statistics showing they have the best attendance record of any party at more than 92% of compulsory meetings. In many areas, they have fought to limit councillor allowances and perks, campaigned against HS2 and mounted protests against EU flags being flown in town halls.

However, the band of newly elected councillors also appears to have been plagued by a disproportionate number of controversies. They include Peter Lagoda in Cambridgeshire, who has pleaded guilty to benefit fraud amounting to almost £25,000; Matthew Smith in Norfolk, who was charged with electoral fraud earlier this year; and Peter Georgiou, also in Norfolk, who resigned after admitting to shoplifting from Poundstretcher

Among those who have held on to their jobs is Victoria Ayling in Lincolnshire, now a parliamentary candidate, who was filmed saying she would like to “send the lot back”. Ayling claimed she had been referring to illegal immigrants.

A number of others left the party after controversies over remarks made on social media. Eric Kitson of Worcestershire resigned after posting anti-Muslim and antisemitic messages on Facebook. Chris Pain, formerly opposition leader on Lincolnshire county council, was also criticised after his Facebook page carried a post referring to “sandal-wearing, bomb-making, camel-riding … ragheads”. He denied posting the comments and said his Facebook page was hacked. However, he was expelled from the party in a separate feud with the leadership and took four county councillors with him to form a new group – Independence from Ukip. One of those who left to join his breakaway group was Tiggs Keywood-Wainwright, whose Facebook page included a post saying: “Bottom line is we have too many muslims [sic] in this country!”

Others to have left include the Worcestershire councillor Martin Jenkins, who resigned in protest at the party’s anti-gay marriage stance, and a Somerset councillor, Nigel Pearson, who had “irreconcilable differences” with his local party. A Worcestershire councillor, Tony Baker, died after just five weeks in office and the seat was retaken in a byelection by a Conservative.

Over the year, the party has gained new councillors through defections on a district, borough and town level, with 19 coming from Labour and the Conservatives in London alone. However, its county council losses during the year are many times higher than the other parties, with overall levels of Conservative and Labour councillors remaining almost stable.

Dr Matthew Goodwin, a politics expert at Nottingham University, said this would not undermine Ukip’s support and, in fact, the controversies may add to its appeal.

“While it is tempting to think the performance of radical right councillors or members of the European parliament might impact on their support, it clearly does not,” he said.

“With the radical right, and figures like [party leader Nigel] Farage, it is as if voters are willing to give them a free pass – to use them as a vehicle through which they can express their intensely held concerns over Europe, immigration and the state of our politics while overlooking their own failings or those of individual councillors and candidates. Indeed the past two months of British politics have made one thing clear; lining up voices in the establishment to denounce or ridicule an anti-establishment revolt does not work. If anything, it simply adds to their appeal.”

Ukip’s high drop-out rate is mirrored in the European parliament, where it has lost a third of its representatives since the last election for Brussels.

However, Farage has claimed his councillors are coming under unfair scrutiny as other parties trawl through social media for misdemeanours. The party has also launched a fightback by highlighting bad behaviour by councillors from other parties, including a Lib Dem borough councillor in Sutton recently convicted of racially aggravated assault.

Countering claims it has picked candidates for this month’s district, borough and town council elections with racist views, Farage held an event showcasing the party’s supporters from ethnic minorities last week. But this was undermined this week by the resignation of young Ukip rising star Sanya-Jeet Thandi, who left on the grounds that she believes the party has descended into a terrifying “form of racist populism”.

Ukip did not respond when asked to comment on the number of councillors who have left the party.

The Guardian


Case against Norfolk UKIP councillor Matthew Smith to go to crown court

Matthew Smith

The case against a Norfolk UKIP councillor and two other would-be candidates who are accused of electoral fraud has been sent to crown court.

Matthew Smith, who was elected in May and represents Gorleston St Andrew’s division on the county council, is accused of six counts of making a false statement in nomination papers and three of making a false instrument with intent.

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

Smith 26, of High Street, Gorleston, appeared at Norwich Magistrates’ Court today alongside Michael Monk and Daniel Thistlethwaite.

Monk, 60, of Freeman Close, Hopton, and Thistlethwaite, 19, of Station Road South, Belton, each face a charge of making a false statement in nomination papers.

The trio did not enter a plea.

They were given unconditional bail to return to Norwich Crown Court on April 22.

EDP24


Ukip councillor to face electoral malpractice charges

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.

ITV