FALKLANDS hero Simon Weston has been questioned by detectives over fears he may have been duped by a businessman posing as a Royal Navy captain.
Mr Weston, a former Welsh Guardsman who was severely burned when the Sir Galahad was bombed at Bluff Cove during the 1982 Falklands conflict, was invited to open the premises of a North Lincolnshire company whose managing director has now been arrested on suspicion of fraud and breaching the Uniforms Act 1894.
Mr Weston was pictured shaking the hand of company boss Stuart Elliott at the opening of the head office of his firm TC Power Ltd, at Stanley House, Falkland Way, in Barton.
Mr Elliott, 51, is under investigation after photographs emerged of him wearing a Royal Navy uniform with gold braids on his cuffs – the four rings indicating the rank of captain – and a row of medals.
The Royal Navy has confirmed Mr Elliott was never in its service.
Det Insp Mike Reed, of Humberside Police, said: “Mr Elliott was arrested at his home address on suspicion of offences under the Uniforms Act and also on suspicion of fraud because some people alleged because of his status they only took up contracts with him because they believed he was a member of the Royal Navy and had this credibility behind him.
“He was taken to Queens Gardens Police Station in Hull, where he was interviewed.
“We have interviewed Simon Weston as part of the inquiry. Simon Weston opened part of his new business premises last year and I think he believed the story he was told that he was a Falklands veteran.”
He added: “Mr Elliott was very co-operative and has been bailed until a date in early January.”
After initially being alerted by apparent discrepancies in Mr Elliott’s array of medals – they were in the wrong order and a ribbon denoting service in the Iraq War was apparently upside down – inquiries have been extended to cover suspected fraud after several firms contacted to police to say Mr Elliott’s status as Royal Navy captain had been a key factor in their decision to do business with him.
Mr Elliott is also understood to have claimed he served aboard HMS Coventry, a destroyer which was sunk on May 25, 1982, with the loss of 19 crew.
As well as drawing attention to his medals, closer scrutiny of his uniform is understood to have invited further doubts about Mr Elliott as the cut and cloth suggests it was not produced by the tailors who normally supply Royal Navy captains.
His medals cover more than a quarter century of service, from the 1977 Silver Jubilee to the second Gulf War of 2003. They also include a submariner’s badge.
Mr Elliott was not available for comment at his company when contacted by the Yorkshire Post yesterday.
A spokeswoman said: “I’m afraid he’s not in the office at the moment.”
A Royal Navy spokesman said of Mr Elliott: “I can confirm we have no record of him ever having served in the Royal Navy, or indeed in the Royal Naval Reserve.”
Uniform regulations for Royal Navy officers were introduced in 1748, with differences in rank being shown by the shape and cut of the lapels and cuffs. The system of using gold rings on cuffs dates back to 1856.
The rank of captain in the Royal Navy is above commander and below that of commodore. It is equivalent to the rank of colonel in the British Army and Royal Marines and Group Captain in the RAF.
The Uniforms Act 1894 states: “It shall not be lawful for any person not serving in Her Majesty’s Military Forces to wear without Her Majesty’s permission the uniform of any of those forces, or any dress having the appearance or bearing any of the regimental or other distinctive marks of any such uniform.”
Mr Weston, who became a symbol of British courage and suffering in the Falklands, has campaigned on behalf of veterans and serving soldiers as well as supporting a number of charities since recovering from appalling injuries.
His charity work was recognised with an OBE in 1992.