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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 8 April, 2003, 17:53 GMT 18:53 UK
The major behind the sting
Major Ingram's reputation was left in tatters

Once Major Charles Ingram had made his decision to launch a 1m quiz show sting, he went about it with a military precision that would be second nature to an army officer.

Described by his own father as "competitive, driven and pedantic" he would leave nothing to chance.

Getting on to the show in the first place has proved difficult enough for many people, but Sandhurst-trained Ingram had that all worked out.

Persistence, and a willingness to spend 2000 on the show's premium-rate phone line, saw him accepted onto the programme.

To get through the Fastest Finger round, which picks who out of the show's hopefuls gets into the hot seat, Ingram created his own replica keypad and practised until he had honed his skills.

Had he stopped there, any success on the show could have been put down to practice and hard work - but, like any army man, the major wanted to make sure he had covered all eventualities before going into battle.

Unlike an officer, and certainly a gentleman, for Ingram this meant fighting dirty.

Clues in the past

There were some clues to Ingram's decision to cheat in his past, but equally many who knew him found themselves shocked by his scam.

The father-of-three first became involved with the army as a student, as an officer cadet in the London University Training Corps.

He left university with a civil engineering degree and in a relationship with Diana, the woman who was to become his wife and co-conspirator, and in 1986 he earned a place at Sandhurst army training academy.

The couple became engaged while he was on a tour of duty in Germany, and they married in November 1989.

The following year daughter Portia was born. Rosie and Hester completed their family.

Tecwen Whittock
Tecwen Whittock was drafted into the sting
In 1995, following a variety of postings and steady promotion through the ranks of the Royal Engineers, he became a major at the age of 32.

In February 2000 he was sent to Bosnia for six months as part of the UN's peacekeeping operations.

His former commanding officer, Colonel Michael Carter, praised his former number two in the Balkans and said it was with "considerable surprise" he learned of the allegations against him.

Before the trial, he said: "He is a highly professional officer - energetic, hard-working and determined.

"He commanded a squadron in a very efficient manner. Those under him had high morale, a strong sense of purpose, and treated him with loyalty and respect.

"I consider him to be an officer of the utmost integrity and complete honesty, a man of high moral standards,"

Bases covered

His father John, a former RAF wing commander, gave more of a hint as to why such a highly respected officer would risk his reputation with a criminal bid to swindle 1m.

He said Ingram "staggered" him by setting out to win the prize.

But Ingram was to cross the line between determination and obsession - with disastrous results.

With all bases covered on the way to the Millionaire? hot-seat, Ingram knew he needed one last plan to guarantee success.

Along with Diana, he recruited Tecwen Whittock, a Welsh college lecturer, to signal correct answers to him by a series of coughs.

But where the major's plan to get on the show had worked smoothly, this conspiracy was more Dad's Army in its execution than something expected of a senior officer.

The scam was discovered almost as soon as the 1m question was answered - and the major, along with his hard-earned reputation, were undone.




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