|This biographical article relies on references to primary sources. (July 2011)|
Charles Ingram with his wife Diana
6 August 1963 |
Derbyshire, United Kingdom
|Occupation||Novelist and computer repairman|
|Known for||Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? cheating scandal|
|Spouse(s)||Diana Ingram (1989–present)|
Charles William Ingram (born 6 August 1963) is a former British Army major who made headlines worldwide after cheating to win the jackpot on the game show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? in 2001. He was convicted of deception.
He is married to Diana Ingram (born 1965) and has since participated in other television shows, including The Weakest Link (where he appeared with his wife Diana), Wife Swap (in which he swapped lives with Jade Goody's partner) and Hell's Kitchen and controversially on Big Brother's Big Mouth. In 2003, he received a conditional discharge for insurance fraud after being found guilty of one count of deception and a related count regarding a claim against a house contents insurance policy.
Education and career
Charles Ingram went to Oswestry School and obtained a BSc in Civil Engineering from Kingston Polytechnic, an MSc in Corporate Management from the Defence College of Management and Technology part of Cranfield University, Chartered membership of the Institute of Personnel and Development, membership of the Chartered Management Institute, membership of the Association for Project Management, and membership of the Society of Authors. In 1986, he trained for the Army at Sandhurst and was commissioned as an officer in the Royal Engineers. He was promoted to the rank of captain in 1990 and major in 1995, and in 1999, he served in Bosnia for six months on NATO peacekeeping duties. He was forced to resign from the Army in 2003, and give up his rank of major.
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? scandal
|£1 million (15 of 15) - no time limit|
|A number one followed by one hundred zeros is known by what name?|
|• A: Googol||• B: Megatron|
|• C: Gigabit||• D: Nanomole|
|Ingram's £1 million question|
The ITV programme was produced by Celador at Elstree Studios, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire. The show, hosted by Chris Tarrant, was recorded on 9 September 2001 and 10 September 2001. After winning £1,000,000, the payout was suspended when Ingram was accused of cheating by having his wife, Diana, and an accomplice, Tecwen Whittock, cough as Ingram announced the correct answer from the available choices. Following a trial at Southwark Crown Court lasting four weeks (including jury deliberation for three-and-a-half days), which ended soon after a jury member was evicted for discussing the case in public, Charles and Diana Ingram and Whittock were convicted by a majority verdict of "procuring the execution of a valuable security by deception" on 7 April 2003.
Diana Ingram had previously been a contestant and won £32,000. Her brother Adrian Pollock had also previously won the same amount. Both Diana Ingram and her brother had missed their £64,000 questions (the latter had used his 50:50 lifeline on his question).
On 7 April 2003, the Ingrams and Whittock were each given prison sentences suspended for two years (the Ingrams were sentenced to 18 months and Whittock was sentenced to 12 months, also suspended), each fined £15,000, and each ordered to pay £10,000 towards prosecution costs. Within two months of the verdict and sentence, the trial judge ordered the Ingrams to pay additional defence costs: Ingram £40,000 and Diana Ingram £25,000. Altogether with legal fees, the Ingrams had to pay £115,000.
On 19 August 2003, the Army Board ordered Ingram to resign his commission as a major, with his state-earned pension of 17 years.
On 19 May 2004, the Court of Appeal denied Ingram leave to appeal against his conviction and upheld his sentence but agreed to quash his wife's fine and prosecution costs. On 5 October 2004, the House of Lords denied Ingram his leave to appeal against his fine and prosecution costs, and he appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. On 20 October 2004, the original trial judge reduced Ingram's defence costs order to £25,000 and Diana Ingram's defence costs order to £5,000. On 21 May 2005, Ingram appealed against his conviction to the Criminal Cases Review Commission. The CCRC completed its review in autumn 2006, concluding that "there was insufficient prospect of overturning the conviction".
An essay written by James Plaskett in favour of the innocence of Ingram, his wife and Whittock led to the journalist Bob Woffinden, who had a longtime interest in miscarriages of justice, publishing a two-page article in the 9 October 2004 edition of the Daily Mail, entitled "Is The Coughing Major Innocent?" Plaskett's essay also prompted a reconsideration of the case in The Guardian Comment Is Free blog on 17 July 2006 from an initially sceptical Jon Ronson. Plaskett may also be heard at Episode 29 of The Pod Delusion podcast being interviewed by political blogger, Mark Thompson, who was himself led by Plaskett's essay to take an interest in the case of The Millionaire Three.
In court, Ingram claimed the video tape was "unrepresentative of what I heard"; indeed, he continues to assert that it was "unfairly manipulated". The audio recording of Whittock's coughing was amplified for the benefit of the jury (and viewers in later television accounts) during the trial. He claims that he neither listened for, encouraged, nor noticed any coughing. The prosecution alleged that, of the 192 coughs recorded during his second-night performance, 32 were recorded from the ten Fastest Finger First contestants, and that 19 of the 32 coughs clearly heard on the video tape recorded louder than both Ingram's and Tarrant's voices, were "significant". Chris Tarrant also denied hearing any coughing, claiming he was too busy to notice.
Testimony of Larry Whitehurst
Whitehurst, another contestant who has appeared on the show as a Fastest Finger First contestant on four occasions, was adamant that he had known the answers to Ingram's questions. He told the court that he had been able to detect a pattern of coughing, and that he was entirely convinced coughing had helped Ingram.
Testimony of Tecwen Whittock
Whittock claims to have suffered a persistent cough for his entire life and insisted that he had a genuine cough caused by a combination of hay fever and a dust allergy, and that it was only coincidence that his throat problem coincided with the right answer. During the trial, however, the jury heard evidence that once Whittock himself earned the right to sit in the hot seat, his throat problems disappeared. Whittock later testified that he drank several glasses of water before he went in front of the cameras. Tecwen Whittock also insisted that he had not known the answers to three of the questions he allegedly helped with. However, the police found the answer to question number 12 regarding the artist who painted The Ambassadors in a hand-written general knowledge book at his home.
Davies, the floor manager, said that, as soon as the coughing came to his notice during the recording, he decided to find out who was responsible. "The loudest coughing was coming from Tecwen in seat number three", he claimed. "He was talking to the person to his left when I was observing him, and then he turned towards the set and the hot seat to cough." Whittock remarked during the trial that "you do not cough into someone's face".
During the trial, Whittock portrayed himself as a "serial quiz show loser" because he had been eliminated in round one of 15 to 1 and had only won an atlas on his appearance on Sale of the Century. However, Whittock twice won the Wales heat of Brain of Britain (on BBC Radio 4), and in the 1994 semi-final, was only narrowly beaten into runner-up spot. In the 1997 semi-final, he could only manage third place and the heat was easily won by quiz legend Daphne Fowler.
After the show
Tarrant, who drank champagne with the Ingrams in their dressing room, said he was convinced that Ingram was genuine when he signed the £1 million cheque, saying that "If I thought there was anything wrong, I certainly would not have signed it." When asked whether the atmosphere in the dressing room was tense after the show, Tarrant replied: "No, not at all. They seemed as normal as people who have just won a million pounds would be in the situation." However, he said that on his way to the dressing room, "I had been told there had been quite an unpleasant exchange."
A member of the crew, Eve Winstanley, testified in court that Ingram seemed very "unhappy" for someone who had just won a million pounds.
Celador employees produced and reviewed various compilation tapes, before and after contacting the police. Celador and their editing company, Editworks, retained all the tapes during the case and reproduced all tapes for court.
In court, Paul Smith of Celador Productions confirmed that his company had previously produced a television programme involving witnesses about the case, for broadcast on ITV after the trial. This was subsequently broadcast on ITV a month after the trial as Tonight With Trevor McDonald – Major Fraud, which was credited with over 17 million viewers. Two weeks later, the day after Major Fraud aired in the USA, the same channel broadcast another programme on the same topic entitled The Final Answer, which was credited with over 5 million viewers.
The trial judge summed up the case by stating to the jury that the tapes and Whitehurst were the two pieces of "direct evidence" offered by the prosecution before adding that, "coincidences happen".
The foreman at first told the judge that they thought Ingram and Tecwen to be guilty but Diana not. He was informed that since all three were co-defendants, this was not an acceptable conclusion. He then returned to the jury room and emerged some twenty minutes later saying that they now thought her guilty as well.
Ingram currently lives in Easterton, Wiltshire, with his wife, Diana, and their three daughters, Portia, Rosie, and Hester. After leaving the Army, Ingram embarked on a career as a novelist. He has written two novels to date: The Network, published on 27 April 2006, and Deep Siege, published on 8 October 2007. He also repairs computers for a living, as well as assisting his wife with her handmade jewellery business.
Ingram and his wife declared bankruptcy in October 2004. He has said that despite everything, he feels free as he is "spending more time with his family" and that he "wouldn't swap it for anything".
Ingram was accused of assaulting an unnamed 13-year-old boy which occurred on 30 April 2006. The unnamed boy, who was with five other people, was reported to have mocked him by coughing into Ingram's face. Ingram stated during the trial that his family had suffered over 60 acts of assault, aggression, abuse and vandalism over a period of five years for which he described his life as a "living hell". Ingram was found guilty in April 2007 and was given an absolute discharge.
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