Sunday, June 23, 2024


A former military clerk scammed businesses out of thousands of pounds by pretending to be an SAS hero with cancer, a court heard.

Simon Buckden, 44, bragged about experiencing ‘frontline active service” in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, both Gulf Wars and Rwanda” to his girlfriends.

The former soldier, who genuinely helped raise funds for a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder charity, was also chosen to carry the Olympic Torch in 2012.

But in reality his military record did showed he had worked as a humble military clerk in the armed services.

Craig Hassall, prosecuting, told the Leeds Crown court: “He has told other veterans that he served with the SAS and has attended events wearing medals and an SAS beret”.

Buckden, who denies fraud, also ran several marathons for charities – including Help for Heroes – hitting national headlines in the process.

The veteran, who laimed to have held a dying child in his arms and to have worked undercover in Northern Ireland, had spoken and written of his time growing up in care and his career in the army and the SAS

Yesterday the court heard that in 2012 Buckden – who took part in the Olympic torch relay the same year – claimed he been diagnosed with cancer, either rectal or bowel, and when people heard about his cancer some of them gave him money.

Mr Halsall told the court: “In light of what he said about his diagnosis, people were, naturally, moved by his story and moved to try and help him.

“Here was a man making a valiant effort to raise funds for charity running a 100 marathons in a 100 weeks who had, in the middle of all that, been cruelly struck down with cancer.

“Many of the witnesses in the case provided either money or practical help to the defendant’s cause, as a result of hearing about his cancer diagnosis.”

The court heard Buckden had drawn up a document outlining what he had suffered and what he was trying to achieve, a proposal which would be shown to people moved by “the account the defendant was giving” and “was to get a lot of attention, partly for people who were suffering from PTSD, and partly for himself”.

Some of things he listed that he needed to help him reach his goals were sponsorship, branding, a mobile phone, a car and a holiday.

One businessman, Gareth Boot, having read his proposal gave Buckden £2,000 for a holiday so he could take a break from his fundraising.

Another businessman made a promotional film for free for Buckden, which the defendant decided was to upsetting to show.

Yet another businessman, upon hearing the “terrible things” Buckden had seen, and hearing about his marathon attempts, he raised over £1500 and donated it to Buckden to set up a social enterprise called Position Action for PTSD.

All in all Buckden is alleged to have scammed around £8,000 off various businesses, in both money and services.

Mr Hassall told the jury that police, having obtained Buckden’s medical records, could find “no mention whatsoever within them of being diagnosed with cancer”.

He said: “Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust have checked all of their systems and databases and have confirmed that there are no notes or information of the defendant “having ever been diagnosed, treated or received any sort of therapy in relation to cancer”.

Mr Hassall told the court Buckden, in his proposal, “asked for a car, and a mobile phone, a laptop and a holiday”.

He added: “It is blatantly clear what was behind these untruths about his medical situation”.

In relation to Buckden’s claims of serving with the SAS, Mr Hassall said: “The defendant’s army records have been obtained and the record indicates that the defendant was in fact a military clerk rather than a frontline soldier”

And there is no reference to him being involved with the SAS

The court heard Buckden, of Leeds, enlisted in 1989 and by 1993 had qualified as a military clerk, and by the time he was discharged in 2001 he had passed courses in regimental office finances and handling classified documents.

Mr Hassall said: “Within these record there is no suggestion he ever saw any active service on the front line.”

The jury heard Buckden completed one tour of duty in Bosnia but there is no record of service for Rwanda, either of the Gulf Wars or Northern Ireland.

The section on his record, which details the medals a soldier may wear, is blank.

Mr Hassall then told the jury “you have seen the photograph of medals proudly displayed while he wears his sand coloured beret”.The distinctive beret is worn by the SAS.

Buckden was arrested in August, 2014, after a former girlfriend challenged him about his health., and interviewed.

“He said he could not say what his role had been in Rwanda and said he had never served with the SAS or done any undercover work in the army.

“He could not explain why his army record had no reference to service in the Gulf, Rwanda, Cyprus of Northern Ireland.

“When asked if he had ever held a dying child in his arms he said “I don’t remember that at all”” said Mr Hassall.

Buckden also told police that a friend told him he had cancer, but he treated himself and received no treatment on the NHS.

He told police he lied about receiving radiotherapy.

The prosecution accepts Buckden does suffer with PTSD.

Buckden has pleaded not guilty to six counts of fraud.

The trail continues.

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