Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Great Yarmouth Conservatives were "upset"

From Great Yarmouth Mercury by Christine Cunningham:

Former UKIP candidate alleged to have upset Great Yarmouth Conservatives with his success with voters

Matthew Smith.

The chairman of Great Yarmouth Conservative Association told a jury there had been comments about wanting to discredit former UKIP Parliamentary hopeful Matthew Smith after his party’s success in the local elections.

Jenny Beesley was given a court order to attend and give evidence in the trial of Smith, who is one of three UKIP supporters accused of electoral fraud at Norwich Crown Court.

The charges relate to the 2013 polls in the Great Yarmouth area when Smith stood for election and acted as UKIP’s electoral agent.

The prosecution claim there were forged signatures on seven of the eight forms submitted by the party in that campaign.

Smith has denied six counts of making a false statement in nomination papers, knowing they contained false signatures and three of making false nomination papers.

Giving evidence Mrs Beesley told the court how the executive committee held a meeting on June 18, after the 2012 elections, which had been a disappointing result for the Conservatives: 
Feelings were running high at the meeting.
She said Smith, who used to work as a full-time administrator for the Conservatives before joining UKIP, was discussed at the meeting.

Smith left the Conservative party in 2011 and won an unfair dismissal case and Mrs Beesley claimed that Great Yarmouth councillor George Jermany made a comment asking why Smith was dismissed and asking if they could “damage his reputation.”

She said it was pointed out that there was a confidentiality clause not to discuss the matter and added: 
After the behaviour of that meeting I am afraid I was rather disgusted.
Mr Jermany, was also recalled as a witness and admitted he was probably quite vocal at the meeting and discussed what could be done about UKIP, However he denied saying about damaging Smith’s reputation. 
I said could we do something about him. His reputation did not come into it.
He said his comments were directed as to how his party could take on UKIP such as asking what their policies were for Great Yarmouth.

Michael Monk, 60, of Freeman Close, Hopton, and Daniel Thistlethwaite, 20, of Station Road South, Belton have also pleaded not guilty to one charge of making a false statement in nomination papers.

Giving evidence Monk said he was “truly astonished” when told that some of the signatures on the nomination papers were not genuine.

I have no idea how that happened.
He said the allegations were “fantasy” based on no evidence whatsoever.

He added: 
I just could not believe it. I would not get involved in anything like this. I would not have allowed it.
Thistlethwaite also said he had no idea where any fake signatures came from and said they had no problem in getting people to sign nomination papers,

He denied they were under any pressure to get the nomination papers filled in and returned on time.

There was no sense of urgency.
The trial continues.

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