Glasgow attack: Legend of terror hero 'Smeato' challenged

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The Independent Online

He was the everyman who became an international celebrity. John Smeaton – 'Smeato' to his army of fans – was lionised for helping police to foil an attempted car-bomb attack on Glasgow airport last June.

In Mr Smeaton's version of events he karate-kicked one of the terrorists, before dragging a fellow bystander to safety from the gas-filled Jeep. It was almost inevitable that someone would come forward to accuse him of exaggerating his heroism. And last week they did.

The former baggage handler, 31, gave numerous interviews after the event, warning would-be terrorists: "Glasgow doesn't accept this... we'll set aboot ye." But now taxi driver Alex McIlveen, who also helped to apprehend the two men, has criticised Mr Smeaton's version of events, insisting: "There were no heroics on his part. He didn't land a blow on anyone".

Mr McIlveen protested at the level of attention lavished on Smeaton: "He has turned the whole of the bombing attempt into the John Smeaton show".

The Scot was recently awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal for civilian bravery, was the subject of a TV show John Smeaton: Everyday Hero, and even received a bravery award from American TV channel CNN.

Mr Smeaton has denied Mr McIlveen's assertions: "It is a strange world when people try and blow out your candle to make their own grow brighter."

Both men claim that the truth will come out at the trial this autumn of alleged would-be bomber, Bilal Abdullah, when CCTV footage of the incident will be screened.