MP steps in to save Armed Forces Day
SOUTH Swindon MP Robert Buckland has stepped in to try to save the town's Armed Forces Day after the arrest of the organiser for fraud.
Mike Buss was detained on Thursday on suspicion of defrauding Help for Heroes and held overnight at Gablecross Police Station. He was released on bail pending further inquiries on Friday.
The former soldier had been trying to rally the town behind the ‘family fun day’, due to take place in Faringdon Park on June 28.
He had held several events to raise funds and said shortly before his arrest he had received a grant from the Ministry of Defence.
Mr Buckland, who hosted the launch of the event at his Milton Road offices last month, believes the occasion can still go ahead.
He said: “I’m concerned about the future of Armed Forces Day 2014 in Swindon.
“What I propose to do, with the agreement of inSwindon, is to hold a meeting next week at their offices with inSwindon and all the other organisations which were represented at the meeting that was held about a month ago. We just need to plot a way ahead.
“A few ideas include inSwindon hosting a Saturday event or we could approach the Old Town Festival with a view to bringing it together with their event.
“We have to think proactively both to ensure there is a meaningful event here on Armed Forces Day and to work out what has been done and what can be salvaged to mark it in an appropriate way for Swindon.”
The meeting is pencilled in for next Thursday with all the parties excluding Mr Buss.
Mr Buckland said: “There’s been a lot of work ahead of the centenary of the First World War and we need to make sure the 28th goes by in suitable fashion.
“In the past we’ve had some good events in Swindon and I'm keen to make sure that people come together so that we do have an event worthy of the name."
Mr Buss, 39, was organising the day to raise money for Swindon's Royal British Legion branch, The Rifles’ ‘care for casualties’ appeal and Brews and Wets, which supports servicemen with mental health conditions.
The endurance athlete has complete a number of fundraising events in the past, including running 100 marathons in 100 days in 2010.
He completed each stint on a treadmill at a different location, a feat he said had raised £34,000 for Help for Heroes.
A spokeswoman for the Charities Commission said: “We are aware of allegations that some individuals may have been fraudulently collecting for Help for Heroes, however as these allegations are of a criminal nature we concluded there was not a role for us. The Commission does not investigate individuals and nor are we a criminal investigator. “Our role as regulator of charities is to ensure that they comply with charity law.”