An alleged “war hero” who met with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at a veterans meeting in Downing Street has been exposed as being a fraud.
Chris Webber claimed to have fought in the Falklands, landing “as part of a four-man covert team” but it has been revealed he was actually a holiday rep and pub singer in Spain.
A security investigation is now underway after Webber met with the PM and spoke to Downing Street Ministers including Chief Secretary to the Treasury John Glen as part of a Veteran’s meeting.
The 64-year-old’s false claims were uncovered by a group of veterans who work to expose fake military members, calling themselves the Walter Mitty Hunters Club.
So, who is Chris Webber, what were his claims and how was he caught out? Here’s everything you need to know.
Who is Chris Webber?
Reported by the Mirror, Webber who is from London had claimed to have served during the Falklands War and to have developed PTSD. He had also convinced homeless veterans’ charity Stoll that he had spent three years living in his car in Sheffield.
The 64-year-old had only served a few months in the territorial army in his twenties. His hoax was revealed by the Walter Mitty Hunters Club, a group of veterans who investigate and expose people who pose as members of the military.
After the group saw Webber’s meeting with the PM, members noticed that two of the medals he was wearing were non-military and his green beret was actually from the reign of King George VI. They then contacted him online with a decoy message.
Webber told the group: “On 5th April 1982, I landed as part of a four-man covert team to observe enemy movements. I was there 74 days and lost 255 colleagues to Argentinian hostilities. I once adopted the role of an enemy soldier… if I’d been sussed goodness knows what would have happened to me.”
Adding: “Losing friends who were like brothers to me has been very difficult.”
Ex-Marine Sergeant Major and Falklands veteran Jeff Williams told The Mirror: “I lost a lot of brothers in that war. The fact that this individual lied about his service makes my skin crawl. There should be a law against this.”
Webber has since apologised for posing as a Falklands veteran, he said: “My grandfather and father served in the Second World War and I wanted to be like them.” Adding that he felt “absolutely dreadful”.
What is the Walter Mitty Hunters Club?
The Walter Mitty Hunters Club is a group of veterans that work to expose people who are posing as members of the military or war veterans.
A spokesperson for the Walter Mitty Hunters Club said: “The club solely exists to act as a deterrent to those who wish to masquerade as a veteran, a serving member of the armed forces and those who exaggerate their service. Such people undermine genuine time-served veterans and those still serving in the eyes of the public.”
What does it mean to call someone a Walter Mitty?
According to Merriam Webster, a Walter Mitty is defined as “a commonplace unadventurous person who seeks escape from reality through daydreaming”.
The phrase also became popular after the Ben Stiller film, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty which was released in 2013. Which told the story of a man living a dull life who would dream up romantic and action-filled scenarios in order to escape from his day-to-day.
What has Rishi Sunak said?
The Prime Minister has not commented on the incident, whilst in the report by The Mirror, it revealed a security investigation was now underway.