A former police worker who conned his way to an MBE and obtained £66,000 through a string of "sophisticated deceptions" was jailed for 18 months yesterday.

Michael Eke, of March, Cambridgeshire, carried out numerous thefts, including writing references nominating himself for the title, Norwich Crown Court heard.

Eke, 38, collected his honour from the Queen at Buckingham Palace in 2003 for services to the community. To get the MBE he had forged a number of letters, one of which was supported by Tory MP Malcolm Moss, who assumed it was genuine.

After his trip to the palace, Eke, a married father-of-two, was among 140 people chosen to carry the Olympic torch on the London leg of its 78-day journey to the Athens Games in 2004.

He mingled with celebrities, rubbing shoulders with Davina McCall, Frank Bruno, Steve Redgrave and Tim Henman.

But yesterday the court heard that Eke, who was squadron leader of March Air Training Corps (ATC), was a conman who had pocketed thousands of pounds in lottery grants.

Sam Mainds, prosecuting, said it was the first time the Cabinet Office had been deceived by a simple forgery.

"This is an extraordinary case and an extraordinary defendant," he said.

"This defendant, over a period of a little over four years, obtained a total of £66,000 by a number of sophisticated deceptions practised on a variety of victims, who in at least two cases the average conman would not have dared go near."

Mr Mainds told the court how Eke provided false references to obtain a job as a stationery stores manager with Cambridgeshire Police, before stealing computers and cameras from the force.

Eke also falsified ATC invoices and obtained printed brochures for RAF music events by falsely claiming that his employers, Cambridge-shire Police, had agreed to pay for them. At a previous hearing Eke admitted using a false instrument, namely a Cabinet Office "Nomination for a UK honour" form, along with 13 offences of theft, false accounting and deception between 2001 and 2004.