Former Ukip parliamentary candidate Matthew Smith apologises to electorate after submitting false nomination paper
- Credit: Rob Colman
A former Ukip parliamentary candidate's political career lay in tatters after he was ordered to do 200 hours community service and pay £3227 towards costs after he admitted submitting a false nomination paper for Norfolk County Council elections.
Matthew Smith, 27, was also given a 12 month community order and told by Judge Anthony Bate that he had breached the trust placed in him.
His conviction means he will automatically be barred from standing for public office for the next five years which the judge said would be hard for a young man who had devoted much of his life to politics.
He apologised on Monday for 'letting down my party... the taxpayer... and the residents who elected me'.
Smith, of High Street, Gorleston, was due to face a retrial at Norwich Crown Court today on two remaining counts of electoral fraud after he was cleared of seven counts of electoral fraud in a trial earlier this year.
But before a jury at Norwich Crown Court was sworn in, Smith pleaded guilty to a single charge of causing or permitting a false statement to be included in the nomination papers for the Magdalen division for the county council elections on May 2, 2013.
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Brett Weaver, for the prosecution, said that plea was acceptable and no further action would be taken on the second charge Smith faced.
Smith, the Norfolk County Council member for Gorleston St Andrews, had been selected to stand for parliament in the key seat of Great Yarmouth in the general election.
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But he was suspended from the party after the allegations emerged.
Smith had originally worked for the Conservatives but fell out with the party after leaving acrimoniously in 2011.
His guilty plea means that Smith will now have to stand down as a county council member.
His barrister Piers Wauchope said that he would automatically be disqualified.
Mr Warchope also pointed out that the false signatures on the nomination paper included names of Smith's own family members and others were names of Ukip members and supporters, who would all have been pleased to sign the nomination paper in question.
'Had they been asked to sign a form, they would have done so.'
Under election rules all candidates standing in council elections must obtain 10 nominations from members of the public.
Detective Chief Superintendent Alan McCullough, who led the investigation, said: 'Today is the outcome of a full and impartial investigation undertaken by the Joint Protective Services of Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies, into allegations of electoral malpractice first reported to us in April 2013.
'This was a complex inquiry and the sheer volume of witnesses involved meant it lasted for a number of months.
'It was important to the Constabulary that Matthew Smith faced a retrial as we believe the public must have trust and confidence in our electoral processes and those in public office. For that reason it was necessary these matters were investigated and prosecuted.'