UKIP’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the seat of Great Yarmouth faces 10 charges of electoral malpractice, including seven counts of supplying an electoral nomination knowing it contained a forged signature, and three counts of producing forged nomination papers.
Police officers executed a warrant at the home of Matthew Smith last July, seizing property for an investigation into alleged forged signatures.
A Norfolk police spokesman said at the time: “Police conducted a search warrant at a premises in Gorleston High Street on Friday, June 28 in relation to an ongoing investigation into potential electoral malpractice relating to the Great Yarmouth area.
“Our aim is to conduct a full, impartial and proportionate investigation into allegations, reported to us by the borough council, which centre around the use of forged signatures on nomination papers. Friday’s action forms part of the evidence-gathering process of this investigation.
“Inquiries continue and no arrests have been made in relation to this matter.”
Mr Smith vigorously denied any wrongdoing at the time. He said: “We are now three months into an investigation that has seen no charges, despite everything I possess having gone through a fine tooth comb, not a single charge or even a caution has ever been given. The voters had their choice to vote UKIP in May and decided to do so, with these rumours circulating well before polling day.”
But the BBC’s Andrew Sinclair tweeted about the matter today, adding: “Worth noting that the police are saying the alleged nomination paper fraud in Yarmouth involved more than one paper”.
Smith replied to Sinclair’s tweet: “kind of the police to let me know before the press do!” indicating that he was unaware of charges being brought against him.
At the end of last year, a Survation poll found that Great Yarmouth should be a target seat for UKIP at the 2015 General Election.
In the 2013 local elections, UKIP increased its number of council seats in England from eight to 147.
The sitting Member of Parliament is Conservative Brandon Lewis, who has a majority of 4,276.