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Last Updated:  Thursday, 27 March, 2003, 17:34 GMT
Millionaire accused had 'chronic cough'
Tecwen Whittock
Mr Whittock has two conditions that cause coughing
A man accused of using coughs to indicate answers to a Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? contestant had "cough variant asthma" a medical expert has said.

Professor Alan Morris gave evidence at Southwark Crown Court where Tecwen Whittock is accused of using coded coughs to guide Major Charles Ingram to the 1m top prize on the ITV1 quiz show.

The professor said there were three conditions that caused chronic coughing, adding that Mr Whittock was suffering from two of these on the night he allegedly helped the major win.

Mr Whittock is standing trial with the major and his wife Diana and they all deny "procuring the execution of a valuable security by deception" on 10 September 2001.

Major and Mrs Ingram
The Ingrams deny the charges

Mr Whittock, head of business studies at Pontypridd College, south Wales, is accused of using 19 strategic coughs to tell the major which of four answers to choose.

Professor Morris said he had examined Mr Whittock's medical history and carried out tests on him.

His research showed that Mr Whittock suffered from a year-round dust allergy as well as hayfever. He also tested "very positive" for asthma, which would have been made worse by a hot TV studio.

"He had a very convincing story to me of someone who provides a cogent history of what an allergic type person complains of," he told the court.

"So it is entirely compatible with medical evidence that he would have a chronic cough."

'Chocolate box'

On Wednesday, Mr Whittock told the court how 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, he added.

He said 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.

Chris Tarrant
Host Chris Tarrant has already given evidence

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

Mr Whittock said he had not known some of the answers to the questions directed at the major by the show's host Chris Tarrant, despite having coughed when Mr Ingram mentioned them.

Equally, he said, he had known the answers to two questions despite not coughing as the major struggled with them.

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.

'Chocolate box'

Questioned about why he and the Ingrams had never met or spoken at the studio, he said there was nothing suspicious about it but that he was concentrating on the challenge ahead.

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".

In his closing speech, prosecuting lawyer Nicholas Hilliard told the jury not to feel sorry for the defendants.

"Depending on what is at stake, even people of good character can tell lies," he told the jury.

"It may be said they have a lot to lose but there is another side of that. There was a lot to gain if they got away with it."

He added: "The fact that it is a quiz show does not matter, does it? "Nobody forces you to play. He (Ingram) was not made to take part.

"But if you decide to, there are rules."

The case was adjourned until Friday.

The BBC's Rory Maclean
"A coughing specialist said Mr Whittock was suffering from cough variant asthma"

Millionaire: A TV phenomenon
03 Mar 03  |  Entertainment

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