A successful Wigan businessman who proudly spoke about his MBE title to “inspire” others has admitted that he faked receiving the coveted honour.
Since April 2018, Mark Stuart, director at Stuart Energy, has talked publicly about being made a Member of the British Empire – which he claimed was for services to the energy industry and philanthropy.
Earlier this year Mr Stuart contacted Executive Hire, a popular trade magazine in the energy industry, sending them information about the honours and a picture of himself holding the coveted MBE medal.
It was published in the April edition. After receiving a tip-off from an anonymous source suggesting that the title was fake, the Wigan Post contacted Mr Stuart.
During the conversation he said that his name did not appear on any official honours lists because he was a secret agent working for the Home Office, and that his anonymity was being protected by the Government.
The Wigan Post subsequently received a call from his mum to say that publishing a story would compromise his cover and put the family in danger.
However, the Cabinet Office, the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood and Buckingham Palace later confirmed that this was incorrect and that Mr Stuart had not been awarded the Queen’s honours.
Mr Stuart later admitted that he was not a spy and that his MBE was a joke that got “completely out of hand”.
“I have not benefited from this in any way,” he said.
“I never thought it would get this out of hand. I never used it for anything. It’s a complete embarrassment.”
Mr Stuart said that the MBE he was pictured holding had been “superimposed” onto the photos which were then sent for publication,
Before being exposed, he also claimed that he was put up on the wall of fame at St Edmund Arrowsmith’s in Ashton.
This has been neither confirmed nor denied by the school.
In a Facebook post, he said: “So the people closest to me will know I don’t broadcast this sort of thing but it is true that in the 2017/18 New Year’s honours list I was awarded an MBE from the Queen for services to the energy industry and philanthropy.
“Anyway my industry magazine has gotten wind of my honour and wrote an article.
“Plus my former school St Edmund Arrowsmith have me up on their wall of fame.
“To all you former and current Eddie Arrows out there big up, never give up on your dreams your hope and your ambitions.
“You can be whatever you want to be in life.”