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17 March 2014, 16:37 | Updated: 17 March 2014, 17:36
A UKIP councillor is among three men who are to appear at court next month to face charges relating to electoral malpractice in Norfolk.
The men, all from the Great Yarmouth area, have been reported for summons and are accused of returning fraudulent nomination papers in the Norfolk County Council elections held in the Great Yarmouth district between March and April 2013.
Matthew Smith, who represents Gorleston St Andrews for Norfolk County Council, is among the trio. The 26 year old, from High Street in Gorleston, will face 10 charges - comprising seven counts of supplying a nomination paper to a returning officer knowing it to contain a forged signature (contrary to the Representation of the People Act 1983) and three counts of producing forged nomination papers (contrary to the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981).
The charges were authorised by the Crown Prosecution Service and follow an investigation into allegations of electoral malpractice reported to Norfolk Constabulary last April.
Daniel Thistlethwaite, 19, of Station Road, South Belton, and Michael Monk, 60, of Freeman Close, Hopton, will be jointly charged with Matthew Smith of one count of supplying a nomination paper to a returning officer knowing it to contain a forged signature.
They're due to appear at Norwich Magistrates’ Court on Friday April 4th.
Cllr Richard (Toby) Coke, Leader of the UKIP Group on Norfolk County Council, commenting on the prosecution of Cllr Matthew Smith said:
“These are very serious allegations, which will be subject to Court proceedings. Therefore, it would be inappropriate for me to make any comment about the substance of the matter.
"However, I can confirm that I am in the process of suspending Cllr Matthew Smith from the UKIP Group at County Hall, with immediate effect, pending the outcome of the court case.”