Former Conservative candidate guilty of election fraud in Norwich City Council election
A former Conservative Norwich City Council election candidate has been fined £300 after he admitted three counts of election fraud.
Alex Jackson-Dennis, 22, of Hilary Avenue in Norwich, was the Conservative agent for Tory candidates in last May’s Norwich City Council elections.
But he was up at Norwich Magistrates Court today, where he admitted three counts of election fraud - causing or permitting a false signature on nomination papers.
The court heard that Jackson-Dennis had only taken over the role of election agent in March last year and was “inexperienced”.
Prosecutor Natalie Dawson said the role of election agent required him to collect eight signatures, along with a proposer and seconder, for each of the Conservative candidates in the City Hall elections.
In March last year, he presented those signatures to officers at City Hall ahead of the election.
But Labour’s election agent thought it was odd that one of the names listed as supporting a Conservative candidate was a known Labour member.
He raised concerns, which prompted a police investigation.
Ms Dawson said that probe revealed signatures had been faked in seven cases on the nomination sheets for the Mancroft and Thorpe Hamlet wards and in five instances in Sewell ward.
She said that Jackson-Dennis been standing for the Conservatives in Thorpe Hamlet, but that neither he, nor the other two Conservative standing in wards where the fraud was committed had won.
Ms Dawson said Jackson-Dennis was a man of previous good character.
She said there was no evidence of malice, but said: “The offences do go to the heart of the democratic system.”
In mitigation, Alistair Taunton said: “He took the election agent role at short notice and accepts he wrote the names.
“It was unsophisticated, which is probably why he put a Labour name on a Conservative nomination form. It was done in a panic.”
He said the matters had impacted on Mr Jackson-Dennis’s mental health and he was on sick leave, having previously worked part time as an evening receptionist at a hotel.
Mr Taunton said he had moved back in with his mother and hoped that, after the court case, he could get back into work.
District judge Julie Cooper fined him £300, £100 for each offence.
She also ordered him to pay £85 costs and a £30 victim surcharge.
She told him: “You know what you have done. I hear what has been said that you are depressed and not working.
“You are young and you need to put this behind you and get on with it.”