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Last Updated:  Monday, 17 March, 2003, 19:37 GMT
Millionaire man admits coughs
Tecwen Whittock
Tecwen Whittock says he had an allergy
The man accused of helping an Army major cheat on a TV quiz show has admitted he was responsible for a number of coughs, a court has heard.

Lawyers said lecturer Tecwen Whittock confirmed he was responsible for at least some of 19 coughs the prosecution say were coded to help Major Charles Ingram win 1m on Who Wants to be a Millionaire?.

An expert on sound told the jury at Southwark Crown Court he believed the coughs all came from one part of the studio.

Major Ingram, 39, wife Diana, 38, and Mr Whittock, all deny conspiracy to "dishonestly procure the execution of a valuable security" - namely the quiz show's 1m jackpot.

Dr John French admitted the forensic analysis of coughing was still "virgin" territory.

But he said it was clear the coughs came from one of five Fastest Finger First contestants, and were extremely unlikely to have come from the sole female candidate.

Forensic analysis of coughing is relatively uncharted territory
Dr John French
Sound expert
He told the court that forensic measurement of energy levels also allowed him to trace a spoken "no" - allegedly taped at the moment Charles Ingram seemed about to answer the 500,000 question incorrectly - to the same area of the studio.

"It was on mike... and perhaps spoken by the cougher," said Dr French.

The court had been told Mr Whittock said he was afflicted with both a dust allergy and hay fever on the day of the recording.

He is said to have told police any "correlation" between his coughs and the major's choices were "coincidence".

Dr French, who said his expertise had been used in the Bloody Sunday inquiry as well as in the prosecution of Balkan war criminals, took the jury through the various techniques he had used to reach his conclusions.

Microphone differences

Nicholas Hilliard, for the prosecution, told the court that Mr Whittock's lawyer David Aubrey, had "helpfully indicated" his client accepted "that some if not all" of the 19 "particular" coughs were his.
Major and Mrs Ingram
Mr and Mrs Ingram deny the charges

Dr French then explained the difference between individual radio microphones, worn by the Fastest Finger First contestants, Mr Ingram as he competed, his wife in the audience and game show host Chris Tarrant, and the "independent ceiling microphones".

The expert also went into some of the importance of tone control, main mixers, digital recorders, pre-amplifiers and sound spectography.

The prosecution also played the 19 coughs alleged to be coded in quick succession to the jury.

Dr French said the quietest of the coughs was five times louder than any of those from the studio audience.

'Virgin furrow'

When asked whether the coughs came from the same person, he replied: "That is a very difficult question to answer because forensic analysis of coughing is relatively uncharted territory.

"We are ploughing a virgin furrow here."

But he added: "Listening to them all, I would be hard put to pick the odd man out."

Sound spectography showed there was a wide variation among the 19 coughs, Dr French said, but there were "points of connection in terms of energy frequency".

Dr French also said he analysed whispers recorded by studio microphones.

Answers discussion

He said whispers had been heard among the Fastest Finger First contestants just after Mr Ingram had been asked the 250,000 question, "what type of garment is an Anthony Eden?".

Dr French said a "London male" was heard to say: "It's a hat. Jesus I wish I was up there."

He said a contestant with a Welsh accent was then recorded saying: "It's a hat," before repeating, "yes, it's a hat".

Soon after, the court was told, "particular cough 11" was recorded.

The trial was adjourned until Tuesday.

The BBC's George Eykyn
"The court heard that he wanted his time in the hot seat to be good television"

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