Imposters who wear military medals they are not entitled to should be subject to criminal charges, a committee of MPs has said.
The Commons Defence Committee said the ‘unauthorised and deceitful’ use of military decorations was insulting to the rightful recipients and damaged the integrity of the military honours system.
It urged ministers to back a private member’s bill creating a new criminal offence with a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment or a fine of £5,000, when it comes before the Commons on Friday. Legislation making the unauthorised wearing of medals a criminal offence was originally introduced in the aftermath of the First World War by the then secretary for war, Winston Churchill.
It remained on the statute book until 2006 when the new Armed Forces Act came into force and the provisions relating to military decorations were not carried over.
In evidence to the committee, the MoD argued there had been problems with the way the original legislation was drafted, while anyone improperly using medals for financial gain would be caught by the Fraud Act which carried higher penalties.
However, the committee says such laws were ‘commonplace’ in other countries.