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Lib Dems hit out at 'dirty tricks' over damaged boards

PUBLISHED: 08:36 06 December 2019 | UPDATED: 08:44 06 December 2019

Karen Ward, the Liberal Democrat candidate for North Norfolk in the 2019 General Election at a hustings at Stalham Baptist Church. Picture: Stuart Anderson/A Liberal Democrat election sign taken down on Horning Road, Hoveton. Picture: Kevin Geary

Karen Ward, the Liberal Democrat candidate for North Norfolk in the 2019 General Election at a hustings at Stalham Baptist Church. Picture: Stuart Anderson/A Liberal Democrat election sign taken down on Horning Road, Hoveton. Picture: Kevin Geary

Archant/Kevin Geary

Tensions have erupted in the tightly-fought race to become the next MP for North Norfolk, with the Liberal Democrats hitting out at "dirty tricks".

A Liberal Democrat election sign on Horning Road, Hoveton, which was damaged. Picture: Kevin GearyA Liberal Democrat election sign on Horning Road, Hoveton, which was damaged. Picture: Kevin Geary

The party said 15 of its election boards were damaged or removed in Hoveton last Wednesday, before the visit of Conservative minister Michael Gove.

A Conservative spokesman said they believed the signs had been removed by Norfolk County Council because they had been erected "illegally" on council land.

But the council denied this and said they would only remove a sign if it affected road safety.

The North Norfolk candidates met at another hustings on Wednesday night at Cromer Parish Church.

A Liberal Democrat election sign on Horning Road, Hoveton, which was taken down. The Conservatives denied blame and said Norfolk County Council took it down because it was A Liberal Democrat election sign on Horning Road, Hoveton, which was taken down. The Conservatives denied blame and said Norfolk County Council took it down because it was "illegally" erected. Picture: Kevin Geary

The Liberal Democrat candidate, Karen Ward, was asked by a Conservative audience member about an article in this newspaper regarding the hiring of her former colleague as a £1,000-a-day consultant for North Norfolk District Council.

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She replied: "As it said in the EDP, I am not under investigation. I have not done anything wrong, it is a non-story."

However earlier that day she said she had written to the council welcoming an "urgent, independent investigation" into the matter, which she said would show her actions were "beyond reproach".

The council has said its head of paid service is looking into the matter.

A Lib Dem spokesperson said: "It seems the Conservatives will stop at nothing to win seats. But people are tired of politicians using shabby tactics to get their way."

They said the integrity of Ms Ward was "widely recognised".

The seat was won by the Lib Dems in 2017 with 48pc of the vote, holding off the Conservatives with 42pc, but polls are predicting it will be taken by the Conservatives this time.

The other candidates standing are Duncan Baker (Conservative), Emma Corlett (Labour) and Harry Gwynne (Brexit Party).

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