[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated:  Wednesday, 26 March, 2003, 17:50 GMT
Cheating 'silly' says Millionaire accused
Tecwen Whittock
Mr Whittock denies cheating
A college lecturer has told a court he did not help an army major cheat on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? because it would have been "silly".

Tecwen Whittock, who is accused of using coded coughs to guide the major to the 1m top prize, said such "criminal behaviour" carried with it the "likelihood I could get caught".

Mr Whittock, 53, of Cardiff, who is head of business studies at Pontypridd College, south Wales, is in the dock with Major Charles Ingram and his wife Diana, both 39, of Easterton, Wiltshire.

Major and Mrs Ingram
The Ingrams deny the charges
They each deny a single count of procuring the execution of a valuable security by deception on 10 September, 2001.

It is alleged Mr Whittock used a total of 19 strategic coughs to help the major climb towards the jackpot.

Mr Whittock, a father of four, said he had been in touch with Mrs Ingram before her husband appeared on the show, but there had been nothing underhand about it.

Their contact had been limited to telephone conversations.

They had never strayed beyond their shared interest in the show, how to maximise the chance of being selected as a contestant and - once there - how to win the "fastest finger" round.

Chris Tarrant
Host Chris Tarrant has already given evidence
Mr Whittock told the court he had suffered from a persistent cough for many years caused by hay fever and a dust allergy.

More recently he had also been diagnosed with asthma.

His throat condition had worsened on the day of the alleged cheating as he sat in the studio as one of the fastest finger contestants.

At the same time Mr Ingram had been fielding questions from host Chris Tarrant.

Mr Whittock said he had not known some of the answers, including the ones for 500,000 and 1m, despite having coughed when Mr Ingram mentioned them.

"Any of the coughs I made were never made to give assistance or guidance to Major Ingram," he said.

I was trying to psych myself up. I was in a state of mind, lost in my own thoughts
Tecwen Whittock
Equally, he said, he had known the answers to two questions despite not coughing as the major struggled with them.

Mr Whittock went on to win the fastest finger round after Mr Ingram had won the 1m.

He said his condition had not improved until he drank several glasses of water during a short break before going on camera.

'Nothing suspicious'

He had gone on to give a wrong answer to the 8,000 question, forcing him to bow out with his 1,000 "safe haven" winnings.

Under cross-examination, he agreed he had appeared on the show in April 2001, just a few days after Mrs Ingram had won 32,000.

He denied he had tried to get on the same show as her.

You are picking out what you want. It is like a box of chocolates
Tecwen Whittock
Questioned about why he and the Ingrams had never met or spoken at the studio, he said there was nothing suspicious about it.

"I was not interested in anybody else," he said.

"I was trying to psych myself up. I was in a state of mind, lost in my own thoughts."

Mr Whittock also accused the prosecution of presenting what he called "chocolate box" evidence.

He said the case against him was like someone who would only choose the favourite flavours from a confectionery display but ignore the unwanted "coffee creams".

During counsel Nicholas Hilliard's cross-examination of him, he said: "You are picking out what you want. It is like a box of chocolates."

The trial continues.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's George Eykyn
"Mr Whittock told the court on some of the questions... he didn't even know the answer"



SEE ALSO:
Millionaire: A TV phenomenon
03 Mar 03  |  Entertainment


INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific