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Greenhithe and Swanscombe Royal British Legion member exposed as fraud
A ROYAL British Legion member who posed as a war veteran on the front page of News Shopper has been exposed as a fraud.
Steve Brooks, 49, praised his Greenhithe and Swanscombe Royal British Legion's nationally recognised Real Poppy Campaign in last week's splash.
But the branch vice-chairman's claims that he served as a Paratrooper in the Falklands were a lie.
When fellow members found out they suspended him from the RBL committee before he then resigned.
Legion member Graham Mentor-Morris came up with the plan to carpet the country in poppies for the First World War centenary in 2014.
He says he has been left stunned by the antics of "Walter Mitty" figure Mr Brooks.
The 57-year-old said: "This is like a punch between the eyebrows; the biggest shock to the system I have had in a decade.
"I am absolutely appalled and disgusted.
"He was very active in promoting and helping out; very hands on.
"There was certainly no need to be Walter Mitty."
Membership of the RBL is not restricted to ex-service personnel but Mr Brooks joined the Greenhithe branch around a year ago claiming to have served in the Third Parachute Regiment for four years.
He was allowed to join but gave an eight digit service number when real IDs only contain seven.
Club chairman Phil Berry, 61, is a former Lance Corporal in the Royal Signals who served in Northern Ireland.
He said: "You accept people at face value because you don't think anybody would say something like that without being genuine.
"He will no longer be welcome on the premises."
Mr Brooks came on a trip to the battlefields at Ypres dressed in a blazer and was apparently able to avoid suspicion when joining in conversations about army life, though there were "certain things that didn't read".
Ex-Royal Artilleryman Mr Mentor-Morris said: "He put snippets in where conversations were going on and it was relevant."
On Wednesday (October 24) he was confronted by club members and did not deny the allegations.
To buy your poppies and learn more about the Real Poppy Campaign campaign, visit realpoppy.co.uk
Steve Brooks responds
Mr Brooks says he applied for the Army in the 1980s but got turned down because of his asthma.
Speaking to News Shopper on Monday, he said: "I don’t know what I was doing. I have ruined everything to be honest.
"What can you say, I am just a prat.
"I just wanted to get in with the lads, I just wanted to be part of something.
"It’s a great atmosphere there.
"It was something I have never had before where everybody just helps each other out."
He added: "I didn’t want to do anything that would destroy that for them, but now I’ve gone and done that.
"They want to stay in touch with me but I don’t think I could go back to be honest.
"I have apologised and they have accepted my resignation."