Update: Great Yarmouth UKIP candidate cleared of further charges - jury to continue deliberations tomorrow
- Credit: Rob Colman
A Ukip parliamentary candidate has been cleared of three further counts of electoral fraud.
Matthew Smith, the Norfolk County Council member for Gorleston St Andrews, had been selected to stand for parliament in the key target seat of Great Yarmouth at the next general election.
But he was suspended from the party after allegations emerged surrounding forged signatures on nomination forms submitted by Ukip in the 2013 county council elections, during which he acted as the party's agent.
Smith, 27, of High Street, Gorleston, is standing trial at Norwich Crown Court after denying six counts of making a false statement in nomination papers knowing that they contained false signatures and three of making false nomination papers.
After 13 hours of deliberations, jurors this morning unanimously found him not guilty of one count of making a false statement and three of making false nomination papers.
They later cleared him of three further counts of making a false statement.
Two remaining counts of the same charge remain and the jury will continue their deliberations.
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Judge Anthony Bate has told the jury that he would accept a majority verdict on the remaining counts.
Fellow Ukip members Michael Monk, 60, of Freeman Close, Hopton, and Daniel Thistlethwaite, 20, of Station Road, South, Belton, had both denied one charge of making a false statement in nomination papers but were cleared yesterday.
Under election rules, all candidates standing as councillors must obtain 10 signatures on nomination forms.
The prosecution alleged that seven out of eight forms submitted by Ukip in that election contained forged signatures.
Giving evidence, Smith had claimed that he submitted forms with genuine signatures but that these were later substituted in an attempt to smear him.
Smith had originally worked for the Conservatives but fell out with the party after leaving acrimoniously in 2011.
By the end of the day, the jury had not reached any further verdicts and will return to continue their deliberations tomorrow.