HE is the most iconic politician in world politics.

Armed with his cigars, Vsigns and steely determination Winston Churchill led Britain to victory over the Nazis.

Memorabilia surrounding the political icon is big business with some selling for thousands of pounds.

Last night collectables connected to the wartime Prime Minister were at the centre of a major investigation in Hampshire into alleged faking of signatures.

Detectives from the Metropolitan Police art and antiques unit swooped on an address in Lymington and arrested a suspect and searched his home.

They believe he is connected to scam where books and memorabilia bearing allegedly fake Churchill autographs were put up for sale on the Internet auction site eBay.

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Police were keeping details of the man’s name and address under wraps last night.

But they did confirm that a 65-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of fraud by misrepresentation.

He was taken to Lyndhurst Police Station, where he was in custody pending further inquiries.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “The arrest comes after officers were alerted to a number of Winston Churchill books and memorabilia alleged to have fake signatures being offered for sale during the last 18 months.

“These items were all purportedly signed by Churchill himself, thereby increasing their value as much as 1,000 per cent.

“Attempts at selling the items are believed to have been made via auction website eBay or directly to victims.

“Officers have today seized a number of calligraphy pens with ink and approximately 30 books by authors such as J R Tolkein, TS Eliott and Robert Louis Stephenson.”

Last night, eBay were unavailable for comment.

According to autograph experts, with Churchill there are many different ways of authenticating his signature by looking at shapes of his letters but also how they appear at different periods of time.

He was known to sometimes sign his name Winston S Churchill, sometimesWS or sometimes just “W”.

Winston Churchill's autograph

NEVER in the field of autographs have so few been sold for so much.

The enduring global appeal of Winston Spencer Churchill means he remains one of the most sought after signatures in the world, says autograph expert Steve Warner.

Mr Warner, a professional and certified dealer at Autograph Collectors, said: “They are one of the more desirable ones because he is the most important figure in the 20th century.”

And it is not just avid autograph collectors who snap them up. History buffs from around the world have an insatiable appetite for all things Churchillian.

“The last one I had was sold to someone in the British Embassy in Cairo. The signed picture was from May 8, 1939. I sold it to him for £1,000,” Mr Warner said.

Signed pictures can fetch anywhere from £300 to £10,000 at auction while slips of paper can be sold from £300 to £800.

But Mr Warner said people should be cautious about where they buy autographs, especially the Internet, which is awash with fakes.

He said: “I don’t buy directly from the public, I buy from dealers and auction houses and it puts that extra level of authentication.”

He advises people to look for dealers registered with the Universal Autograph Collectors Club. This organisation has stringent policies for members as well as offering intensive training to spot phoney autographs.