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'Millionaire' cheat: Show unfair

Charles Ingram accused documentary-makers of not being even-handed
Charles Ingram accused documentary-makers of not being even-handed

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LONDON, England -- Army major Charles Ingram, convicted of cheating on the TV quiz show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire," says a documentary about the deception was "unfair."

A program showing Ingram apparently cheating his way to the top prize of 1 million ($1.57 million) was screened on British TV Monday.

But Ingram, who was convicted earlier this month for his part in the scam along with his wife Diana and lecturer Tecwen Whittock, lashed out at programme-makers for being "one-sided."

Millions of people watched the documentary "Tonight with Trevor MacDonald," while the quiz show's makers Celador plans to make a film of the fraud.

Ingram told the BBC from his home in Wiltshire Tuesday: "What the viewers saw last night was one of the greatest TV editing con tricks."

He added that he and his wife Diana had asked to go on the show to put their side of the story, but had been turned down.

The programme, recorded last September, showed Ingram tailoring his answers to coded coughs from fellow contestant Whittock. But Ingram argued the show amplified the coughs.

Asked how he could explain the well-timed coughs that apparently guided him to the 1 million prize, Ingram insisted: "I did not notice or hear any coughing on the night.

"I didn't hear any coughing and neither did (show host) Chris Tarrant.

"He was unaware of the coughing."

Ingram added: "The clips that were played last night were wholly unrepresentative of the environment that I was sitting within.

"It is very, very unfair and it is worse, in fact, than what I had to sit through during the trial."

Ingram won the jackpot after answering 15 general knowledge questions, despite often appearing to be baffled.

Each question comes with four possible answers and Ingram would ponder aloud before making a final decision. It was during this time that Whittock's coughs were heard.

Suspicions were raised among production staff and fellow contestants after Diana Ingram was seen speaking to Whittock before and during the interval in the show and Ingram often radically changed his answers immediately after a cough from Whittock.

He denied accusations that he was dim, saying he was a member of Mensa.

Ingram accused Celador of being "greedy" because it will make "millions and millions of pounds out of this."

A police investigation was launched a few days after the win, and the three were convicted earlier in April.

The Ingrams were found guilty and fined 15,000 each and given an 18-month suspended jail term. Whittock was fined 10,000 and given a 12-month suspended prison sentence.

Ingram said his conviction was "extremely humiliating" and had been "cataclysmic" for his family. Whittock plans to appeal against his conviction.

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