Norwich North MP Chloe Smith ‘shocked’ at city council Conservative election fraud allegation
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Norwich North MP Chloe Smith has said she was “shocked” to hear that police are investigating alleged electoral fraud around the nomination paper for a Conservative candidate in the city council elections.
Norfolk police arrested two men in Norwich yesterday morning, following an allegation around the signatures for the nomination for the Conservative candidate in Mancroft ward.
Police said a 28-year-old man and a 21-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit election fraud, specifically conspiracy to submit nomination papers containing fraudulent signatures.
One of the arrested men is understood to be Alex Jackson-Dennis, 21, the deputy chair political of Norwich Conservatives. He acted as the agent for all of the Conservative candidates in this month’s Norwich City Council elections and stood in Thorpe Hamlet himself. He is also an Old Catton parish councillor.
The other man is understood to be Daniel Elmer, 28, another Old Catton parish councillor. He stood for the Conservatives in Catton Grove in last year’s Norfolk County Council elections.
He also ran for the Norwich City Council Catton Grove ward in 2016 and for Bowthorpe in 2015. In 2016 he was the election agent for all the Conservative candidates standing for City Hall.
The Conservative candidate for Mancroft ward this year was Iain Gwynn, There is no suggestion that Mr Gwynn or other candidates were aware of the alleged activity.
The allegation of electoral fraud was made in the run-up to election day - May 3 - with Norwich City Council suggesting the matter needed to be referred to the police.
But police have confirmed the 28-year-old man has been released, with no further action to be taken. Mr Elmer said last night: “I have been released with no further investigation and I would not like to say anything more.”
Mr Jackson-Dennis was unavailable for comment. Police said the 21-year-old man had been released under investigation while they continue their inquiries.
And Conservative MP Ms Smith, whose responsibilities as the parliamentary secretary in the Cabinet Office includes propriety, ethics and transparency, said: “I was shocked to hear of these allegations. I totally condemn electoral fraud in all its forms.
“As this is an ongoing police investigation, I expect it to take its course and I could not comment on any specifics.
“Subject to its findings, I would also expect the Conservative Party to take the strongest possible disciplinary action against any member found guilty of wrongdoing.”
A spokeswoman for Norwich City Council said the authority was not able to comment because of the legal proceedings.
Candidates in elections must be supported by the signatures of 10 registered electors from the ward.
Mr Gwynn received 373 votes for the Conservatives in the election. He was in third place in that ward, behind Labour winner Jo Smith, with 1,248 and Green runner-up Sandra Bogelein, with 1,171.
The Liberal Democrat candidate Sarah Tustin received 139 votes, with a 35pc turnout.
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