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Last Updated:  Monday, 31 March, 2003, 13:38 GMT 14:38 UK
Coughs delay Millionaire trial
Charles and Diana Ingram
Mr Ingram and his wife Diana deny cheating
Coughing jurors have delayed the trial of three people accused of trying to defraud the makers of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? by using coded coughs.

Major Charles Ingram, from Easterton, Wiltshire, and his wife Diane, both 39, are accused of cheating their way to the prize with the help of deliberately timed coughs by college lecturer Tecwen Whittock, 53, from Cardiff.

All three deny "procuring the execution of a valuable security by deception" - namely 1m on 10 September 2001.

But on Monday the trial at London's Southwark Crown Court had to be adjourned for the day after a bout of uncontrollable coughing among the jurors.

Stuffy

Defence barrister David Aubrey QC, making his closing speech, was interrupted several times during the morning and it was clear several members of the jury were suffering throat problems in the hot and stuffy courtroom.

I'm very sorry some of you have got difficulties
Judge Geoffrey Rivlin QC
When Mr Aubrey had finished Judge Geoffrey Rivlin, QC, ordered a 20-minute break before starting his summing up.

But when the panel of eight women and four men returned to their seats there was more coughing and the judge finally told them: "I'm very sorry some of you have got difficulties.

Tecwen Whittock
Mr Whittock denied "coded coughs"
"I understand you feel it would be best if I were to begin my summing up tomorrow morning. Is that right?"

Most of the jurors nodded and Judge Rivlin agreed to begin his summing up on Tuesday morning.

Several jurors thanked him and more coughing broke out as they trooped out of court.

Earlier Mr Aubrey, counsel for Mr Whittock, told the jury they could be certain of his client's innocence.

'Chocolate box' approach

He said the Crown had adopted a "chocolate box" approach to the evidence, picking and choosing whatever suited their case.

Mr Aubrey said they had ignored coughs which did not coincide with correct answers, while disregarding other occasions when he had not coughed.

He said this was "a bit like rejecting unwanted coffee creams".

Mr Aubrey said there was nothing suspicious about the fact there was no further contact between Whittock and Mrs Ingram after her husband's "hot-seat" success.

He said if there had been a plan to cheat then the jury would have expected Mr Whittock to be on the phone to arrange his share of the winnings.

'No point in going to police'

Mr Aubrey said: "If the Major decided to keep all the money himself, what is Mr Whittock going to do?

"He is not going to issue a claim through the courts, or go to the police and say this man has not paid me my share of the money I helped him win by cheating.

"The lack of contact is significant, it is very significant. It shows the kind of behaviour from someone who is perfectly innocent."

Mr Aubrey said Mr Whittock was "not a person who has a price. There are things in his life that are more precious than the price of becoming involved in a scheme like this."




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


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