Great Yarmouth UKIP election fraud trial: Campaigner 'was Buttons'

Daniel Thistlethwaite Daniel Thistlethwaite, who denies making a false statement in nomination papers, was a "fringe figure", according to his barrister

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A UKIP campaigner accused of electoral fraud has been likened to pantomime character Buttons in court.

Daniel Thistlethwaite was not a "villain" in the "pantomime of Great Yarmouth politics", barrister Adrian Harris said.

In closing speeches at Norwich Crown Court, Mr Harris said his client was a "fringe" character in an electoral fraud case.

Mr Thistlethwaite denies a making a false statement in nomination papers.

The 20-year-old, of Station Road South, Belton, Norfolk, is on trial with Michael Monk, 60, of Freeman Close, Hopton, Norfolk, and former Great Yarmouth UKIP parliamentary candidate Matthew Smith, following the discovery of nomination forms with false signatures.

All deny any involvement in electoral fraud.

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

Brett Weaver, prosecuting, has 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 and that Mr Thistlethwaite and Mr Monk were involved in "cutting corners" when collecting signatures.

Mr Harris told the court: "In the pantomime that is Great Yarmouth politics, my client (Mr Thistlethwaite) is not the villain. He is more like Buttons; a fringe figure."

He added that there were "big gaps in the prosecution evidence".

'Put aside opinions'

Piers Wauchope, representing Mr Smith, said there was "not a scrap of evidence" that his client had forged the signatures.

He said Mr Smith's defection from the Conservatives caused a lot of ill-feeling and that anyone who knew the town hall in Great Yarmouth could have tampered with the nomination forms.

The prosecution argues that this explanation is "fantasy".

Judge Anthony Bate, beginning his summing up, told the jury to put "aside private opinions". He said they must decide on whose direction the nomination papers were falsified.

Former UKIP election agent Mr Smith, 27, of High Street, Gorleston, Norfolk, denies six counts of making a false statement and three charges of making false nominations papers.

Mr Monk also denies one charge of making a false statement in nomination papers.

The trial continues.

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