Great Yarmouth UKIP election fraud trial: Matthew Smith pleads guilty

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 admitted election fraud in Norfolk.

Matthew Smith, 27, of High Street, Gorleston, faced charges concerning nomination papers submitted during the 2013 Norfolk County Council elections.

He was sentenced to 200 hours of unpaid work at Norwich Crown Court and will be disqualified as a county councillor.

Smith admitted one charge of allowing false signatures on nomination papers following a retrial.

He was cleared of seven counts at a trial in January. A second charge will remain on file.

Under election rules, all candidates standing as councillors need to have 10 nominations.

The court heard seven out of the eight forms submitted by UKIP contained forged signatures.

Prosecutor Brett Weaver said: "Hand-writing analysis found this form did not contain any correct signatures and the expert found some similarities between Mr Smith's writing and some of the signatures, including that of his grandmother."

'Utter folly'

Smith could have been jailed for a maximum of one year, Mr Beaver added.

Judge Anthony Bate said such offences risked undermining the "hard-fought" battle to improve the reputation of politics since the age of rotten boroughs.

"Most of your adult life has been devoted to pursuing a keen interest in local politics, " he said.

"Quite why you committed an act of utter folly is difficult to define."

Smith, county councillor for Gorleston St Andrews, had been selected to stand for Parliament in Great Yarmouth but was suspended by UKIP.

He stood down as UKIP's parliamentary candidate for Great Yarmouth when he was first charged.

Piers Wauchope, defending, said: "The biggest penalty my client is going to receive is his disqualification from holding public office for five years.

"It is difficult to see somebody who has admitted this act ever standing for office again."

Smith must also pay £3,227 in legal costs.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites