Ukip councillor Matthew Smith accused of forging signatures on nomination papers

Councillor Smith has been suspended by Ukip

A former Ukip parliamentary candidate submitted electoral nomination forms with forged signatures in an attempt to boost the party’s performance in council elections, a court has heard.

Matthew Smith, 27, the Norfolk County Council member for Gorleston St Andrews who had been selected to stand for parliament in Great Yarmouth at the next general election, is one of three men standing trial at Norwich Crown Court over the alleged electoral fraud.

The prosecution said that Smith intended to deceive by submitting falsified nominations for candidates hoping to stand in the 2013 election for Norfolk County Council. Seven out of eight forms submitted by Ukip were alleged to contain forged signatures.

On some of the forms more than half of the signatures were forged, while one consisted entirely of fake signatures, said Brett Weaver for the prosecution. He added: “This trial relates to malpractice regarding the nomination forms required for a candidate to be allowed to stand.

“Our case is that nomination forms were submitted which contained false signatures purporting to be those of genuine voters.”

Mr Smith, who was also involved in the wider campaign in Great Yarmouth, was elected in that poll and his own nomination is said to have contained forged details.

Two other men – Ukip members Michael Monk, 60, and Daniel Thistlethwaite, 19, who stood as a candidate in the West Flegg ward – are also on trial. Under electoral rules, all candidates standing in council elections must obtain 10 nominations from members of the public.

The purpose of the alleged scam was to convince election officials to allow candidates who would not otherwise have complied with the criteria.

Smith has since stood down as the Ukip’s prospective parliamentary candidate and been suspended by the party.

The three accused deny all charges. The case continues.