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Jury fails to reach verdict over allegations of electoral fraud against former Ukip candidate

Ukip councillor Matthew Smith arrives at Norwich Crown Court in Norwich, Norfolk, where he was due to stand trial accused of offences linked to alleged electoral fraud

Matthew Smith was cleared of seven counts relating to forged signatures on nomination forms.

A jury trying a former Ukip parliamentary candidate and election agent over allegations of electoral fraud has failed to reach verdicts on two remaining counts.

Matthew Smith was cleared of seven counts relating to forged signatures on nomination forms submitted by the party in the 2013 Norfolk County Council elections.

Jurors at Norwich Crown Court said they were unable to reach a decision on the final two counts of making a false statement in nomination papers.

Judge Anthony Bate adjourned the case until this afternoon when he will hear from prosecution and defence barristers over the possibility of a re-trial.

Smith, the Norfolk County Council member for Gorleston St Andrews, had been selected to stand for Parliament in the key target seat of Great Yarmouth at the next general election.

But he was suspended from the party after allegations emerged surrounding nomination forms submitted by Ukip in those elections, during which he acted as the party’s agent.

The 27-year-old, of High Street, Gorleston, denied six counts of making a false statement in nomination papers knowing that they contained false signatures and three of making false nomination papers.

Fellow Ukip members Michael Monk, 60, of Freeman Close, Hopton, and Daniel Thistlethwaite, 20, of Station Road, South, Belton, both denied one charge of making a false statement in nomination papers but were cleared on Monday.

Under election rules, all candidates standing as councillors must obtain 10 signatures on nomination forms.

The prosecution alleged that seven out of eight forms submitted by Ukip in that election contained forged signatures.

Giving evidence, Smith claimed that he submitted forms with genuine signatures but these were later substituted in an attempt to smear him.

Smith originally worked for the Conservatives but fell out with the party after leaving acrimoniously in 2011.

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/jury-fails-reach-verdict-over-8532259

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