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He convinced a number of charities and media outlets that he was "Captain Sir Alan Mcilwraith, KBE, DSO, MC". The National Children's Home charity invited him to the Woman of Influence Awards at the Barony Halls. Celebrity magazine No1 carried a picture of him which was captioned "Lady Shona [McLaughlan] and Sir Alan McIlwraith", showing him wearing the dress uniform of the Parachute Regiment with medals.
Mcilwraith's entry in Wikipedia
Mcilwraith created a Wikipedia article about himself at 18:28 GMT on 5 October 2005, which read as follows (spelling mistakes included):
|“||Captain Sir Alan Mcilwraith, CBE, DSO, MC (born 03 March 1978) is a British army officer, currently serving with the Scottish TA. Special Force's Trained Capt Mcilwraith is know throught [sic] the military world as a man that can get things done and thought of as a hero that the United Kingdom and NATO can look to in times of trouble.
Mcilwraith's father was an Engineer. Mcilwraith went to Shawlands Academy, in 1994 he went to Glasgow University. Mcilwraith was commissioned into the Parachute Regiment aged 18 finishing top in his class at Sandhurst Military Academy , specialising in the threat from Terrorism. Serveing [sic] in Northern Ireland,he spent two years commanding a parachute company in Northern Ireland, and later the Balkans.
In 2000s, Mcilwraith served in the NATO chain of command as an Advisor to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Wesley Clark.He is best known for risking his own life when his company was attaked [sic] by a battalion to protect his men he took charge of a general purpose machine gun and held off the enemy long enough for his men to retreat. For this action he was awared [sic] the DSO. He was also badly injured protecting a young woman from an angry mob without any weapons to hand he placed himself between the young woman and mob this act of heroism made him a hit within the political world. There have been rumours that Mcilwraith stop a act of terrorism in the heart of London but these rumours are denied by both the British Goverment [sic] and Capt Mcilwraith alike however he was awared [sic] the CBE for services to the United Kingdom
Very few Photos of Capt Mcilwraith are in circulation he is very camera shy but a splendid soldier says General Mike Jackson Chief of the General Staff.
Mcilwraith also uploaded to Wikipedia a photograph of himself wearing military uniform and medals. The article was created from an IP address registered to AOL, but Mcilwraith also apparently edited the article under the Wikipedia username MilitaryPro. On 10 October 2005 the article was tagged as needing citations for verification, and on 20 October 2005 the article was tagged for deletion due to concerns about its reliability. The article was deleted three times and protected from recreation on 17 February 2006. When news of the hoax broke in April 2006 the article was revived, stating that the previous versions had been written by Mcilwraith himself.
When the article was created, Mcilwraith was described as a CBE, but by December 2005 he had purportedly been elevated to the rank of KBE. On 4 October 2005, MilitaryPro had added the name of Alan Mcilwraith to the List of honorary British Knights in Wikipedia. The edit was reverted two hours later, with a user commenting that "Google has never heard of him — pretty good for someone supposedly knighted this year."
Mcilwraith's double life was exposed by the Scottish tabloid newspaper the Daily Record in an article on 11 April 2006 which described him as "Sir Walter Mitty". The newspaper contacted the British Army and Buckingham Palace during its investigation into Mcilwraith's status, but both denied any knowledge of him. An Army spokesperson was quoted by the newspaper as saying, "I can confirm he is a fraud. He has never been an officer, soldier or Army cadet. May I suggest you try the space cadet organisation." Glasgow University also denied that Mcilwraith had ever been a student there.
Following widespread coverage of the story in the UK media, Alan Mcilwraith failed to return to his desk at the call centre of Dell Computers where he worked, and he lost his job. His fiancée Shona also returned her engagement ring. Interviewed by the Daily Record in July 2006, he claimed that he was "driven to lie after being hit on the head with a scaffolding pole by a gang of youths in the street" but spoke of his regret at having perpetrated the hoax: "I made people look stupid, probably myself more than anybody else and I upset my family and friends."
Mcilwraith the magician
In December 2007, the Sunday Mail reported that Mcilwraith had reinvented himself as a magician called Ledger, and claimed to be a drinking companion of Lance Burton. A spokesman for Burton (who is teetotal) dismissed the report. Mcilwraith also claimed to have come second in the World Magician of the Year contest.
Mcilwraith also boasted that he used magic to bed numerous women. He said: "I must admit, magic does help attract the ladies. Women really love my magic - but when guys see them crowding round, they want to get in on the act too and muscle them out of the way. Women like any tricks to do with money. I have one where I put a pen through a note but leave it intact and they go mad for it. But I have a strict rule for women - if one asks you back to hers after midnight, always say no - you'll be too drunk and she'll turn out to be a minger."
When confronted by the Sunday Mail, he said: "I've been very stupid. It was all lies and for that I apologise. I should have stopped lying after I got caught last time but I just really wanted to be taken seriously as a magician. I won't ever do this again."
Mcilwraith the property tycoon
In June 2009, Mcilwraith received fresh coverage in the Daily Record, which reported that he had been passing himself off as a millionaire property tycoon and charity worker to students at Strathclyde University. The paper also claimed that Mcilwraith had asked some students for disclosure documents and taken their National Insurance numbers and other details after duping them into filling in recruitment forms.
When a journalist from the Record met Mcilwraith at Glasgow Central Station, he was wearing "striking blue" contact lenses. Mcilwraith claimed he was working for an agency that housed asylum seekers, denied passing himself off as a student and said that the stories of his latest tall tales had come from students getting confused after too many drinks. He stated: "I have been trying to recruit people for the company I work for but I have not been trying to do anything other than help. It's true I asked one girl about getting a disclosure but I was genuinely trying to help her along too."
- Wikipedia Signpost article describing how the hoax was discovered and removed
- Alan McIlwraith's Wikipedia article as of 10 October 2005
- Reliability of Wikipedia - This article looks at some of the issues raised by open content editing.
- The Daily Record - Meet the real Sir Walter Mitty, 11 April 2006
- The Daily Record - Mcilwraith's entry in Wikipedia, 11 April 2006
- The Daily Record - Lies lies lies, 12 April 2006
- The Times - 'Knight decorated for bravery' exposed as footsoldier in call centre's front line, 12 April 2006
- The Guardian - Captain Sir Alan KBE - call-centre worker, 12 April 2006
- The Daily Record - I've got to leave cruise to catch London bombers, 13 April 2006
- The Daily Record - Shady deals at the back of B&Q, 13 April 2006
- The Mirror - CAPTAIN BOGUS, 13 April 2006
- The Guardian - My great escape from Glasgow estate: fake army hero tells story, 25 July 2006
- The Daily Record - You shall not go to the ball, 'Sir Alan'