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."