'Decorated war hero' exposed as fake

A MAN who claimed to be a decorated war hero and mixed with VIPs at a charity fundraising event was yesterday unmasked as a call centre worker who has never been in the military.

The man, who calls himself Captain Sir Alan McIlwraith KBE, DSO, MC, persuaded a charity to invite him to an awards ceremony in Glasgow, where he sipped champagne and was later pictured in a celebrity magazine with a female companion.

A photograph of McIlwraith in full military regalia at the event for children's charity NCH Scotland appeared in No 1 magazine with the caption "Lady Shona and Sir Alan McIlwraith". But the 28-year-old, who claims to have served in Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Northern Ireland and Kosovo, reportedly started a 16,000-a-year call centre job in Glasgow in January.

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An army spokeswoman said: "We couldn't quite believe someone would be that stupid, but it turns out he is. He has never been a soldier or officer.

"His claims are ridiculous, but also quite serious because they are an insult to those who have earned these awards through their own merit. He's never even been in the TA, he's never even been in the army cadets. It doesn't sound like he's the full shilling."

McIlwraith also had an entry on Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, which described him as "a hero that the UK and NATO can turn to in times of trouble". The website, which is compiled by the public, said he finished top of his class at Sandhurst before becoming second in command of the 2 Parachute Regiment in Northern Ireland.

The entry, which has been removed, claimed McIlwraith served as an adviser to General Wesley Clark, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe.

It said McIlwraith's heroic exploits included rescuing a young woman from a mob and that he was knighted last year. But Buckingham Palace said it had no record of him receiving a knighthood.

A spokesman for NCH said: "We are looking into the circumstances of his involvement with the charity as a matter of urgency."