Great Yarmouth UKIP election fraud trial: Matthew Smith cleared of seven charges

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

A former UKIP parliamentary candidate has been found not guilty of seven electoral fraud charges.

Matthew Smith, 27, who had been due to stand for election in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, denied nine charges.

The jury at Norwich Crown Court has cleared him of four counts of making a false statements and three of falsely signing nomination papers.

Jurors have still to reach verdicts in two other charges of making false statements.

The charges relate to Norfolk County Council elections in the Great Yarmouth area in 2013, when Mr Smith stood for election and acted as his party's electoral agent.

'Smear' attempt

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

Mr Smith had worked for the Conservatives, but left the party in 2011.

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

The jury was sent home for the night and was due to resume its deliberations on the final two charges on Wednesday.

Mr Smith, of High Street, Gorleston, stood down as UKIP's parliamentary candidate for Great Yarmouth after the allegations came to light.

Two UKIP party workers, who were also accused of being involved in electoral fraud, were cleared of all charges by the same jury on Monday.

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