Jury sent home in Great Yarmouth UKIP election fraud trial

Matthew Smith arriving at his continuing trial at Norwich Crown Court.

Matthew Smith arriving at his continuing trial at Norwich Crown Court. - Credit: Rob Colman

The jury in the trial of a former Ukip parliamentary candidate accused of electoral fraud has been sent home for the weekend.

Matthew Smith, the Norfolk County Council member for Gorleston St Andrews who was selected to stand for parliament in the key target seat of Great Yarmouth at the next general election, is one of three men standing trial at Norwich Crown Court over the alleged forgery scam.

The charges relate to county council elections in the Yarmouth area in May 2013, when Smith stood for election and acted as Ukip's electoral agent.

Prosecutors say that he submitted nomination forms for eight candidates that contained forged signatures in a bid to 'cut corners'.

The 27-year-old - who previously worked as a full-time administrator for the Conservatives - denies the charges, saying that he was the victim of a conspiracy.

Smith, who also stood as Ukip's candidate in the elections for Norfolk's police and crime commissioner, claimed that the genuine paperwork was replaced with forms containing forgeries after he fell out with his former Tory allies.

Judge Anthony Bate completed his summing up of the case and sent the jury out to consider their verdict shortly before midday.

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After a little more than four hours of deliberations they had not reached a verdict and will return on Monday to continue their deliberations.

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