Great Yarmouth UKIP campaigners deny electoral fraud

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

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Two Norfolk UKIP campaigners accused alongside an ex-parliamentary candidate with being involved in electoral fraud, have denied wrongdoing.

Michael Monk and Daniel Thistlethwaite each deny one charge of making a false statement in nomination papers.

Former Great Yarmouth candidate for UKIP Matthew Smith denies six counts of making a false statement.

Giving evidence at Norwich Crown Court, Mr Monk and Mr Thistlethwaite said they honestly collected signatures.

'Totally astonished'

Mr Monk, 60, of Freeman Close, Hopton, told the court that he and Mr Thistlethwaite had gone round the Martham area of Great Yarmouth to collect the required number of signatures on Mr Thistlethwaite's nomination papers for the May 2013 election.

He said when he was told some of the signatures on the form were false he was "totally astonished".

Mr Monk said: "I have not been involved. I would not allow anyone to be involved in it. It is a fantasy based on no evidence whatsoever," he said.

Mr Thistlethwaite, 20, of Station Road South, Belton, confirmed he had walked around the Martham area with Mr Monk seeking signatures.

Brett Weaver, prosecuting, suggested Mr Thistlethwaite was running out of time in getting the nomination forms filled in and cut corners.

Mr Thistlethwaite replied: "We had a week to get it filled in. More than enough time. It did need to be filled in but there was no sense of urgency."

Last week, former Conservative Mr Smith, 27, of High Street, Gorleston, Norfolk, told the court 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.

Mr 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.

The trial continues.

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