UKIP supporter told police nomination form complaint was made when it was ‘clear’ his party could win seats
County councillor Matthew Smith attends Norwich Crown Court
A former UKIP parliamentary hopeful standing trial for alleged electoral fraud told police the case against him and his party was politically motivated.
Matthew Smith told detectives he took issue with the fact a complaint about nomination forms for UKIP candidates who stood in the 2013 Norfolk County Council elections were made well after they were submitted to town hall authorities.
The 27-year-old, of High Street, Gorleston, is one of three UKIP supporters accused of electoral fraud and currently standing trial at Norwich Crown Court.
The charges relate to the 2013 polls in the Yarmouth area when Smith stood for election and acted as UKIP’s electoral agent.
The prosecution claim there were forged signatures on seven of eight forms submitted by the party in that campaign.
Speaking in court yesterday Brett Weaver, prosecuting, read out summaries of interviews Smith had with police in August and October in 2013.
Mr Weaver said Smith had told detectives the complaint had been made where it was “clear that his party was doing particularly well and on course to win some seats”.
Smith also claimed paperwork was not stored securely at Great Yarmouth town hall and anyone could take a bit of paperwork and “do whatever they want with it”, the court heard.
In his interview he added:
It’s not within the realms of impossibility that could happen at that town hall. Knowing about the strength of ill feeling against me and my party I wouldn’t put that past them.The court also heard that Smith had spare nomination packs for all nine UKIP candidates standing in the election to use as replacements in case people made mistakes - and he told police he may have replaced one document in the run up to the polls.
Mr Weaver said Smith, who had been selected as UKIP’s prospective parliamentary candidate for the next general election, had stated there were “never two forms for a candidate ongoing at the same time”.
“If there was a mistake on a completed form Smith stated that ‘you must do the whole thing again,’” he added. “Once a completed form had been submitted to the town hall additional forms would have been thrown away.”
Later on in the interview Smith was asked if he had “substituted or replaced” any forms, the court heard.Mr Weaver said.
Smith stated he may have done so for one or two of Jonathan Childs’ [UKIP candidate for East Flegg]. He had to take one page out and get it re-doneUKIP member Michael Monk and Daniel Thistlethwaite, who stood as a candidate in the West Flegg ward in the 2013 election, are also on trial.
Smith has denied six counts of making a false statement in nomination papers knowing that they contained false signatures and three of making false nomination papers.
Monk, 60, of Freeman Close, Hopton, and Thistlethwaite, 20, of Station Road South, Belton, pleaded not guilty to one charge of making a false statement in nomination papers.
The case continues.