Fraudster nominated himself for an MBE

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The Independent Online

A "charity worker" who was appointed an MBE and took part in an Olympic torch relay alongside sporting greats in recognition of his good works yesterday admitted to applying for the MBE himself and being a serial fraudster.

Michael Eke, who worked as a stationery stores manager at Cambridgeshire Police HQ in Huntingdon and raised funds for good causes in his spare time, admitted to a total of 14 charges of theft and deception, including faking an application for an MBE.

Yesterday at Norwich Crown Court Eke, a 37-year-old with two children, changed his plea at the last minute to guilty when he was accused of writing a letter under a false name to the Cabinet Office, proposing himself for honours.

He was honoured with an MBE for his charity work in November 2003.

The British Olympic Association included Eke as a torch-bearer two years ago in recognition of his "tireless devotion to community work". His wife, Lisa, and two daughters aged seven and 11, travelled to London to watch him.

Speaking before taking part in the relay, he said: "It is a real honour. When the letter came through it was a shock, I didn't have a clue."

As commanding officer of his local air training corps (ATC) in March, Cambridgeshire, Eke is thought to have been instrumental in organising around 15 local charity events over three years. Among the highlights was a military tattoo featuring 380 bands in 2004 which drew 1,200 people.

But Eke confessed to a string of deception charges in his role as the commanding officer. He sent false invoices to numerous local companies in 2004 for almost £15,000 which he claimed he was giving the ATC. He also claimed to be raising funds for arts and music events to celebrate the Queen's Golden Jubilee.

Eke lied on his application to join the police and admitted to stealing eight laptops and two digital cameras. The charges came after the force launched an investigation 18 months ago. Judge Paul Downes adjourned the case for pre-sentence reports until 3 October.

The judge said a pre-sentence report for that hearing "would purely be looking at your background and will not give any indication what my sentence will ultimately be".

Three further charges relating to obtaining money by deception and the alleged forgery of part of a will were ordered to lie on file.

A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said that anyone using false references to get themselves an MBE could be stripped of their honour by the Queen.

She said: "We cannot comment on this particular case until the legal proceedings have finished and he has been sentenced."

She insisted that the Cabinet Office had safeguards in place to ensure that nominations were genuine. "We do try and verify the information we are given in nominations by carrying out various checks."

A Cambridgeshire Police spokesman said: "We are pleased that Michael Eke has decided to plead guilty to most of the charges in relation to his deception and fraud.

"Cambridgeshire Constabulary along with many other organisations was deceived by Eke. His activities were uncovered only because of a diligent and lengthy investigation by Cambridgeshire officers."

Eke was dismissed from the Cambridgeshire force following an internal disciplinary hearing in July last year.