Army major Charles Ingram, his wife Diana and Tecwen Whitlock,
narrowly escaped spending time in jail after being convicted of
cheating.by using coughs as a code. Viewers will recall that the
Hindi version of the show Kaun Banega Crorepati hosted by
Amitabh Bhachchan aired on Star Plus from June 2000 and proved to
be the turning point for Rupert Murdoch's Star network.
An Independent report states that the Ingram couple were
jailed for 18 months, suspended for two years. In terms of finance
they have to pay £15,000 in addition to paying £10,000 each towards
prosecution costs. The fines have to be paid within three months.
The sentences could mean a loss of livelihood for the major who
faces an Army administrative investigation which will almost certainly
end his 15-year career.
During the episode which took place in September 2001 while the
major was participating Whittock who was part of the audience coughed
19 times during the duration thereby indicating to the major that
he was on track to bag riches beyond.
In the well thought out plan Whittock was to give illness in the
form of hay fever and a dust allergy as the reason for his cough
should questions be asked. Ingram deliberately read out each option
loudly when faced with each question. When he said the correct option,
Whittock, if he knew the answer coughed. Things went sour when Whittock
said no in the middle as he was afraid that the major wouldn't hear
his cough. This sound was captured on tape and later on presented
Though the show host Chris Tarrant did not detect malpractice at
first Celador Productions became suspicious and carefully examined
tapes. They also witheld payment of the cheque. There was controversy
regarding why Celador used the taxpayers money to file the suit.
A cheaper alternative would have been for the company to refuse
issuing the cheque and putting the onus of responsibility on the
major to prove that he won the money fairly.
Social concerns surrounding the major's three daughters and Whittock's
four children saved them from spending time behind bars. It took
over half a day for the jury to return majority guilty verdicts
against Ingram and Whittock,
All is not gloom and doom for the major yet. If the army discharges
him and he proved successful in a court of appeal, he would be re-instated
and given pay back dated to the day of release, The three of them
are said to be considering appealing.