Oxford town crier Anthony Church lied about Army background

Anthony Church
Image caption Anthony Church has resigned as town crier

A town crier who took part in the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony has said he is "so ashamed" after it emerged he invented a career in the armed forces.

Oxford's town crier Anthony Church had claimed he was a "regimental sergeant major" and wore a Falklands medal.

Mr Church, 63, said he had been "very stupid" and apologised to genuine members of the armed forces.

He has resigned from his position as Oxford town crier and from the same role in five other places.

Mr Church, 63, whose voice could reach 118 decibels, had attended town crying events around the country and even appeared on television making bogus claims about his background.

'Absolutely distraught'

But allegations he had fabricated his military career surfaced on the internet on Sunday.

He told BBC Radio Oxford: "When I became town crier, when people questioned me about my background I stupidly told them I am an ex-serviceman... that is absolutely not true. I have never served in the military."

Mr Church admitted buying medals to wear but said the British Empire Medal he donned had belonged to his father, an RAF pilot

He added: "It was very stupid and I categorically now apologise to everybody who has served in the forces. It was never my intention to cause any distress or upset.

"I made a mistake, I told someone I'd served and it's been going on from there. I can't apologise enough for the hurt and distress it has probably caused people."

He added that he was "absolutely distraught".

"How can I stand on a street corner and have people come up to me? People will probably feel, with hindsight, that I have misled them," he said.

As well as standing down from the Oxford job, Mr Church has resigned as town crier for Wallingford, Chipping Norton, Banbury, Daventry and Thame.

Banbury Town Council chairman Kieran Mallon said his actions were "disgraceful".

"To wear medals and decorations you are not entitled to is morally wrong and disrespectful to those who served," he said.

Helen Stewart, town clerk of Thame, said she had accepted the resignation of Mr Church, whom she described as "well liked and jovial".

"It's very unfortunate. We can't understand what compelled him, but the consequences will have a significant effect on him and his future," she said.

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