Ex-UKIP candidate Matthew Smith denies forgery

Matthew Smith arriving at court Matthew Smith stepped down in July last year as UKIP parliamentary candidate for Great Yarmouth

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A former parliamentary candidate for UKIP has appeared in court to deny forging signatures on election nomination forms.

Matthew Smith, 27, of High Street, Gorleston, Norfolk, pleaded not guilty to six counts of making a false statement in the papers.

Norwich Crown Court heard one of the papers was signed by his father, grandfather and stepmother.

Mr Smith said they would have been happy to sign the form.

He said if the signatures were fake, somebody else must have been responsible for completing it.

The charges relate to elections in the Great Yarmouth district in May 2013.

'Look similar'

Mr Smith, a former Conservative, said his decision to join UKIP had caused a lot of ill-feeling amongst Tories and this could have led to someone "substituting" the forms he submitted to the council.

He said it would have been impossible for him to have forged some of the names without knowing what the correct signatures looked like.

Asked to describe some of the people he is supposed to have collected signatures from, he said: "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."

Mr Smith, who also denies three charges of making false nominations papers, is a Norfolk County Council member for Gorleston St Andrews and also acted as the party's agent in the area in that election.

He had been selected to stand for parliament in Great Yarmouth at the next general election, but withdrew in July.

Brett Weaver, prosecuting, earlier said Mr Smith intended to deceive the authorities by submitting false nominations for candidates hoping to stand in the 2013 election for Norfolk County Council.

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.

Under electoral rules, all candidates standing in council elections must obtain 10 nominations from members of the public.

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.

The trial continues.

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