Christine Cunningham and Sam Russell
Friday, July 25, 2014
UKIP’s contender to take the Great Yarmouth constituency in the next general election has stepped down to fight electoral fraud charges.
Matthew Smith issued a statement the day he appeared at Norwich Crown Court to deny charges against him.
The Norfolk county councillor for Gorleston St Andrews division wrote: “I am sad to say that I am today stepping down as UKIP’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Great Yarmouth in light of the continuing court case.
“I will continue to fight this case knowing that I am innocent of all charges and it is a sad indictment that this case has taken such an unusually long time to progress.
“However I believe that I owe it to the people of Great Yarmouth to have a UKIP candidate, democratically selected by the local branch members in due course, who is free from such distractions and can give the people of Yarmouth the time and attention that this case is depriving me from doing to deliver a famous UKIP win in 2015.
“I have written to my local party chairman to this effect.”
Mr Smith today denied six counts of making a false statement in nomination papers.
The councillor also denied three counts of making a false instrument with intent.
The charges relate to nomination papers put forward in the Norfolk County Council elections held in the Great Yarmouth district between March and April, last year.
Smith, 26, of High Street, Gorleston, appeared alongside Michael Monk and Daniel Thistlewaite.
Monk, 60, of Freeman Close, Hopton, and Thistlewaite, 19, of Station Road South, Belton, also both pleaded not guilty to one charge of making a false statement in nomination papers.
The case was adjourned and all three have been given bail.
A trial date has been fixed for January 5, next year.