I sim­ply can’t un­der­stand the men­tal­ity of those who would con any brave soul who fought to de­fend our free­doms

The Sunday Post (Newcastle) - - OPINION -

This week­end, we re­mem­ber the


All of those brave souls who fought and died de­fend­ing our free­doms.

It’s a chance for us to say thank you by buy­ing and wear­ing a poppy to show our grat­i­tude and re­spect.

And today we can re­flect on the sac­ri­fices made in con­flicts go­ing back to the First World War, but also more re­cent wars such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I am hon­oured to be a pa­tron of Help For Heroes and one of my proud­est times ever was the four years I spent as an honorary colonel of The Black Watch cadets.

So I am deeply sad­dened and ex­tremely an­gry when our ser­vice­men and women or veter­ans are treated with con­tempt, and cyn­i­cally conned, as they were by a cer­tain James Reilly.

He set up the Tay­forth Veter­ans Project in Dundee and, in 2011, he asked me along to open the cen­tre.

What none of us knew at the time was that he would go on to em­bez­zle at least £60,000 from the char­ity.

Ear­lier this year, sev­eral uni­formed marines had trav­elled to Dundee Sher­iff Court to wit­ness Reilly plead guilty to his crimes.

In July, he was jailed for 13 months, but he has now been re­leased from prison early and is back at home.

Veter­ans who were conned are rightly fu­ri­ous that he has served so lit­tle time in jail and they also al­lege he stole even more money from the char­ity.

For­mer Scots Guard NCO Les Ma­son, who was part of the team who worked hard to bring Reilly to jus­tice, has de­manded the au­thor­i­ties re­cover the money that was stolen. You can un­der­stand his anger. At the trial Reilly pleaded poverty, but now he is a free man, he can be seen driv­ing a posh BMW and con­tin­u­ing his life as though noth­ing had hap­pened.

It’s a sorry state of af­fairs and my heart sinks ev­ery time I see a pho­to­graph of me with Reilly reprinted when­ever he is in the pa­pers.

Just like those splen­did veter­ans and every­one who raised funds for the char­ity in good faith, I was also duped.

And that stings hor­ri­bly, more hor­ri­bly than I can say.

I sim­ply can­not un­der­stand the men­tal­ity of any­one who would scam money from a char­ity.

How on earth can they bear to even look at them­selves in the mir­ror ev­ery morn­ing? It is ut­terly baf­fling. I am so an­gry on be­half of those who gave their ser­vice and who de­serve our help and re­spect.

Shame on James Reilly and ev­ery other con artist who would swin­dle the most de­serv­ing mem­bers of our so­ci­ety.

But do re­mem­ber to take a mo­ment today to give thanks to those brave men and women who served.

Like those who raised money in good faith, I was also duped

He just can’t help him­self. Our great­est ev­ery Olympian Sir Chris Hoy is still break­ing records.

This week the dad of two per­formed the most ever “donuts” (spin­ning cir­cles) in a car the world has ever seen.

He did 19 of them in a minute amidst a squeal of tyres at Don­ing­ton Park in Der­byshire. He has also proved him­self to be a top class com­men­ta­tor.

As if that wasn’t enough, Sir Chris is a very suc­cess­ful chil­dren’s au­thor, and his Fly­ing Fer­gus books win rave re­views.

His young read­ers love them and I know Chris is look­ing for­ward to the day when he can read them with his own chil­dren.

Sir Chris just can’t help break­ing records – this time at Don­ing­ton Park

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