Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

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Neville Twitchell
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Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

Post by Neville Twitchell » Wed May 27, 2015 5:41 pm

I have just read Bob Woffinden and Jim Plaskett's book "Bad Show", an enthralling account of the "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" fraud, or supposed fraud, of 2001. The book makes a very strong case for the innocence of the Ingrams and Tecwyn Whittock, and argues that they were the subject of a miscarriage of justice. I have always thought that their conviction was highly dubious, and that the prosecution case consisted chiefly of circumstantial evidence and conjecture, and that it was rather surprising that they were prosecuted, let alone convicted. Moreover, ITV and Celador, they argue, presented a wholly false and misleading account of the case and the Ingram's appearance on WWTBAM?, in the documentary "Tonight with Trevor McDonald". Has anybody else read the book and what are their thoughts on the case?

Martin Benjamin
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Re: Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

Post by Martin Benjamin » Wed Jun 03, 2015 12:28 am

I haven't read the book, but I have read Jim Plaskett on this before (e.g. http://james-plasketts-coincidence-diar ... ation.html). I have also read lengthy articles with compelling evidence that the earth was created on 26 October 4004 BC, others proving that the moon landings were fake and still more well written and persuasive essays and books making strong cases to prove the opposite of what Adrian Molesworth would say "any ful know". Anyone can create an internally logical argument to prove that black is white, and a good mathematician (which I am not) can prove that -2 = 2. All I would say is watch the video of the programme and the TV documentary about the affair (both on YouTube) and make up your own mind. In my opinion, the jury was right to reach a guilty verdict. Leave aside for the moment all the evidence about coughing for the moment (compelling as that evidence is), and the testimony from other contestants, and just watch some of the questions, particularly the last two for £500K and £1 million. At £32K, Ingram “thinks it’s A1” and hasn’t heard of Craig David, Coldplay or Toploader. When A1 (the one he thinks is right) remains along with Craig David (whom he hadn’t heard of) after the 50/50 option, he keeps coming closer to selecting A1, only to switch at the last moment to Craig David. Why? The half a million pounds question, where Ingram seems convinced at the outset that the answer is Berlin, keeps returning to it and also rules out Paris and the other options - why would he suddenly change his mind and choose Paris (an option he has already discarded twice) for no reason with £218,000 pounds at stake? He gives no indication that he has remembered a fact hidden deep in his memory bank. It is just as ludicrous when he is faced with the million pound question, where he states quite confidently that he “thinks it’s a nanomole”, then “it could be a gigabit” and “I don’t think I’ve heard of a googol” – only miraculously to come back to “googol” and choose it even though he hasn’t heard of it (after deciding for no apparent reason that it can’t be a nanomole, after all). Is anyone seriously going to risk £468,000 on a sheer whim like that? Also, his demeanour is not one of someone under genuine pressure or stress. Listen also to his reaction to the phone call where the producer tells him he is referring the matter to the police. Having read the arguments put forward by Jim Plaskett and others on behalf of the three defendants, having watched the videos and having seen the evidence for the prosecution, I am confident that the jury reached the right verdict in this case – proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

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Re: Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

Post by Mike Gunn » Wed Jun 03, 2015 9:06 am

I have just read the book and I now think that the Ingrams are innocent. (Previously I had seen one of the documentaries on the case and believed the reverse). The book contains explanations of Ingrams' demeanour and how/why he switched answers several times during the during the quiz, But more to the point the man who was supposedly feeding him the answers by coughing (Tecwen Whittock) was himself a fairly feeble quizzer (as evidenced by his performances in a whole string of quizzes) and it is unlikely that he knew the answers that Charles Ingrams didn't.

One point (not stressed in the book) is that with the nature of these multiple choice quizzes somebody is sooner or later going to get lucky by guessing.

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Re: Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

Post by Neville Twitchell » Thu Jun 04, 2015 12:22 am

Martin Benjamin wrote:I haven't read the book, but I have read Jim Plaskett on this before (e.g. http://james-plasketts-coincidence-diar ... ation.html). I have also read lengthy articles with compelling evidence that the earth was created on 26 October 4004 BC, others proving that the moon landings were fake and still more well written and persuasive essays and books making strong cases to prove the opposite of what Adrian Molesworth would say "any ful know". Anyone can create an internally logical argument to prove that black is white, and a good mathematician (which I am not) can prove that -2 = 2. All I would say is watch the video of the programme and the TV documentary about the affair (both on YouTube) and make up your own mind. In my opinion, the jury was right to reach a guilty verdict. Leave aside for the moment all the evidence about coughing for the moment (compelling as that evidence is), and the testimony from other contestants, and just watch some of the questions, particularly the last two for £500K and £1 million. At £32K, Ingram “thinks it’s A1” and hasn’t heard of Craig David, Coldplay or Toploader. When A1 (the one he thinks is right) remains along with Craig David (whom he hadn’t heard of) after the 50/50 option, he keeps coming closer to selecting A1, only to switch at the last moment to Craig David. Why? The half a million pounds question, where Ingram seems convinced at the outset that the answer is Berlin, keeps returning to it and also rules out Paris and the other options - why would he suddenly change his mind and choose Paris (an option he has already discarded twice) for no reason with £218,000 pounds at stake? He gives no indication that he has remembered a fact hidden deep in his memory bank. It is just as ludicrous when he is faced with the million pound question, where he states quite confidently that he “thinks it’s a nanomole”, then “it could be a gigabit” and “I don’t think I’ve heard of a googol” – only miraculously to come back to “googol” and choose it even though he hasn’t heard of it (after deciding for no apparent reason that it can’t be a nanomole, after all). Is anyone seriously going to risk £468,000 on a sheer whim like that? Also, his demeanour is not one of someone under genuine pressure or stress. Listen also to his reaction to the phone call where the producer tells him he is referring the matter to the police. Having read the arguments put forward by Jim Plaskett and others on behalf of the three defendants, having watched the videos and having seen the evidence for the prosecution, I am confident that the jury reached the right verdict in this case – proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
I have watched the video of the programme and the documentary "Major Fraud" both at the time and again very recently after having read the book. Thank you for directing me to the article by Jim Plaskett which I had read before but could not currently locate. Re-reading it the article very largely prefigures the book. As a result of all of this I am still less than convinced about the guilt of the Millionaire Three.

For starters I do not find the coughing evidence very compelling for several reasons, bearing in mind that Whittock had 2 or 3 known conditions predisposing him to cough (as was conceded by the prosecution), and that it seems to me that there is no very consistent tendency for the coughs to occur immediately, or even not immediately, after correct answers only. Sometimes there is a cough after a correct answer and sometimes not, and sometimes there is a cough after an incorrect answer and sometimes not. Sometimes there is a double cough and sometimes a single cough. Sometimes there are no coughs at all. Even Celador concede that it is not possible to say that all, or which, of the coughs emanated from Whittock and which from another member of the audience. Moreover, the programme was edited by Celador/ITV to prove their case, and it was conceded by them that coughs on the audio track had been "enhanced". Enhancement does not alter their timing I hear you say, but then what other doctoring may have gone on in the editing suite. Were there other coughs, occurring at other times, that were not enhanced? As for the "testimony from other contestants", it really boils down to Larry Whitehurst, and his belief that Whittock was coughing on cue, but no other contestant formed a similar view, either at the time or subsequently.

Turning to the manner of Ingram's way of dealing with questions, whilst I agree it was unusual, I do not find it suspect, but merely unconventional and discursive, working his way around the questions and possible responses in a circumspect fashion, in the hope perhaps of conjuring something up from his memory banks that might trigger an answer. All contestants on the show probably tended to do that on some questions, though Ingram simply took it to a higher level. He even argues that he was playing to the gallery in some instances, and though I am disinclined to believe that, I cannot see his behaviour as indicative of guilt. I fancy in his shoes I might have done something similar. As for his "demeanour is not of someone under genuine pressure or stress", I suggest that you must have a very limited experience of people under pressure or stress. They will often do strange things, and exhibit behaviour patterns that may appear light-hearted or playful but which are nothing of the kind. Even if he were perpetrating a fraud, then he would still have been under great pressure and stress, perhaps even more so for fear of exposure.

As for his reaction to the phone call, it must be borne in mind that he was taking the call in his office and may felt inhibited in what he could say. He may also have thought it a hoax.

I am not saying that I am convinced of their innocence, but merely that I do not find the case proven beyond a reasonable doubt, which of course is what is required for a conviction, and I am surprised bearing in mind all the evidence, for and against, that the jury convicted.

Martin Benjamin
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Re: Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

Post by Martin Benjamin » Thu Jun 04, 2015 11:40 pm

Ingram was not working his way round the questions and possible answers in the way Neville suggests. Had Ingram been torn between two choices at the outset, or even making random guesses, as Mike suggests, it might be a little eaiser to explain away as "unusual". But on three separate occasions with enormous sums of money at stake, he suddenly switched after long thought from being strongly in favour of one answer to another which he had ruled out several times during his spoken deliberations. That is not merely "unconventional" or "discursive" behaviour; it's irrational to the point of being inexplicable (if he wasn't cheating) and consistent only (in "reasonable" terms) with where the evidence presented in court pointed - he was being helped.

You can review just about any trial where the defendant was found guilty and if you dig deep enough, even in what appear to be the clearest of cases, you can find enough grounds to construct arguments sufficient to raise doubts about the verdict. The Court of Appeal denied Ingram leave to appeal against his conviction and upheld his sentence, and the Criminal Cases Review Commission concluded that there was insufficient prospect of overturning the conviction. There are some well known criminal cases where the verdict causes me unease: this is not one of them.

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Re: Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

Post by Mike Gunn » Fri Jun 05, 2015 10:45 am

According to the book Ingram:

1. followed the same procedure for each question, repeating all the possible answers even when he knew the answer;

2. didn't know the answer to the Craig David question, used 50:50 and then switched his preferred answer after he heard the audience gasp when he said he was going to go for A1;

3. although he hadn't heard of "googol" it was easy to eliminate the other answers offered.

It is true that he switched from Berlin to Paris and the book/ Ingram gives no explanation for this. I think the book is suggesting this was a genuine guess (but on the other hand if you have been to Paris a few times (which Ingram had) it is difficult to avoid coming across the Boulevard Haussmann, so this was not exactly a difficult question).

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Re: Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

Post by Martin Benjamin » Sat Jun 06, 2015 11:56 am

Mike Gunn wrote:According to the book:

3. although he hadn't heard of "googol" it was easy to eliminate the other answers offered.

It is true that he switched from Berlin to Paris and the book/ Ingram gives no explanation for this. I think the book is suggesting this was a genuine guess (but on the other hand if you have been to Paris a few times (which Ingram had) it is difficult to avoid coming across the Boulevard Haussmann, so this was not exactly a difficult question).
He didn't easily eliminate the other answers for the million pound question. He starts with "I think it's a nanomole, but it could be a gigabit". It's only after mentioning the word googol which is followed by the telltale cough that he says "by process of elimination, I actually think it's googol". He hasn't followed any process of elimination.

He didn't "guess" at the Paris answer. For no reason he articulated, he switched suddenly from a very strong leaning for Berlin to Paris, having ruled the latter out previously a couple of times.

MJMcCready
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Re: Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

Post by MJMcCready » Sat Oct 24, 2015 8:14 pm

Having just watched the clip again its hard to believe that anyone could think he's innocent. He reacts to the coughs and suddenly becomes convinced and decisive, even though he admitted that he didn't know what a googol was. I didn't find Ingham to be convincing, it looked quite obvious to me that cheating was going on.


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Re: Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

Post by James Plaskett » Sun Sep 25, 2016 10:21 pm

Just READ this, Señor MCready - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bad-Show-Cough ... aire+major

AND the 19 appended reviews by those who HAVE read our book.

Like you, Martin Benjamin admits to not having read it, neither.
He, like you, alleges that Ingram, a double graduate Mensa member and major in a regiment of engineers, would have difficulty in answering a question where the dummy options ought to be easy-peasy for such a man to eliminate.
Last edited by James Plaskett on Wed Sep 28, 2016 3:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

MJMcCready
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Re: Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

Post by MJMcCready » Mon Sep 26, 2016 2:38 am

Oh James come on. I know he's your friend but its abundantly clear from the footage that he doesn't know the answers. Just contrast his performance with Juddith Keppel's, for example, he clearly doesn't know what the correct option is most of the time.

I'm not sure how 19 reviews helps substantiate your position. There are millions who claim The Bible is the word of god, does that mean it is?

James Plaskett
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Re: Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

Post by James Plaskett » Mon Sep 26, 2016 2:01 pm

He wasn´t my friend before I wrote a 36 Point essay in his defence.

Read the book before opining on a thread ABOUT that book.
It´s Kindlable in the UK, btw...

He DID give as his first choice and as the correct option the answers to the 8K, 16K, 64K, 125K and 250K questions.
Indeed, on the 250K he mentioned none of the other three options even once before, after some 100´seconds, affirming his choice.
And how would a double graduate member of Mensa who worked as a Major in a regiment of engineers be troubled by that 1 million Pounds question?
He himself explained why he was opting for ´googol´ by telling Tarrant that there was only four answers and it couldn´t be any of the others.

James Plaskett
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Re: Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

Post by James Plaskett » Mon Sep 26, 2016 2:10 pm

@martin Benjamin
As we make clear, it was an audience gasp after Ingram had guessed on the 32k question that caused him to then give the other option.
THAT was why he said ´Craig David´.
And that´s not cheating.

Your citing his lack of emotion when receiving the phone call from Paul Smith was because he was in an open plan office surrounded by Army personnel.
That´s why.

For all that, to have a guy on the same show coughing on preferred answers when, as he found out after he had already initiated proceedings against Celador, his wife had been in covert phone communications with that chap... well if that doesn´t qualify as ´piss unlucky´ whatever could?

Yet there is an entirely credible explanation for their contact. And no evidence that Ingram had neither met nor spoken with Whittock.

Diana reports that her husband blew his top when she told him, to the extent that she almost packed her and the kids´ bags and left him.
Last edited by James Plaskett on Mon Sep 26, 2016 9:26 pm, edited 3 times in total.

John Moore
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Re: Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

Post by John Moore » Mon Sep 26, 2016 6:39 pm

Well, Jim, persuasive stuff. Before I opine, if I do, I'll certainly buy the book.

James Plaskett
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Re: Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

Post by James Plaskett » Mon Sep 26, 2016 8:46 pm

Commendable, John.

Do read it.

Once again let me address some points, particularly some made by Martin Benjamin. Benjamin argues that the Youtube clips are definitive. They are not. They are massively slanted. Read the book, Señor Benjamin.

Again, re the 32K Question, Ingram admitted he was entirely at sea and never once unequivocally vetoed ´A1´ as an answer.
The Youtube footage concerning his volte-face is simply lies.

He contrasts Ingram´s performance with Keppel´s.
In fact coughs after her mentioning the right answer but before affirming it may be heard on 6 of her final 8 questions.
No accusations against her though.
I wonder why ever not?

Whittock had, according to expert witness, Professor Alyn Moryce, TWO conditions making him prone to cough in that studio the longer he went without water.
He did indeed get a drink of water before taking the chair himself. This was viewed somewhat unsympathetically by Bashir who commented, "...his cough now gone..."
Incidentally, Professor Moryce analysed the pattern of coughs and attested that there were
TWO
separate coughers to be heard on the Celador tapes.
Technology then did not permit this most crucial of points to be presented to the jury.
Since then this testimony has become
ADMISSABLE.

Difficult to think of anything that could help the defence more...

Mr Benjamin says he finds the testimony of other contestants part of the, for him, compelling picture.
In fact people sitting adjacent to Whittock said they noticed no coughing from him.
Only one man testified against him; Larry Whitehurst.
Whitehurst´s earliest Police subnmissions and contacts with The Sun newspaper contain final sentences such as
"I should like to say it is possible that I witnessed nothing more than a remakable series of coincidences."
He then met before trial with Celador three times and on at least one other occasion with their lawyers, too.

His tune had changed before he took the witness box.
Incidentally, Martin; your man also asked if he might testify from
behind a curtain.
Judge Rivlin denied him that privilige.

On Bashir´s documentary much was made - as it was at trial - of Ingram´s early expenditure of lifelines.
"Clearly he´ll struggle on his own."
But at rehearsals in 1999 Tarrant told us not to worry about early lifeline use. He mentioned a guy who had recently used a lifeline on a soccer question for 500 quid... and did not touch them again until 64K.
re Keppel, Martin: do you really think she, or David Edwards, for that matter, would have been able to negotiate questions about Coronation Street or boy bands WITHOUT using lifelines?

There´s no way Ingram could have known Tecwen would be there on his second night in the chair.
There is no evidence they had ever communicated.

His wife + her brother had co-written a book about the show, each having won 32K. Adrian appeared 4 times. So Tecwen tracked him down by Electoral Roll and asked how he´d managed it. Adrian then made himself scarce for a month or two - owing money to some people. He supplied Diana´s phone number. No evidence Diana and Tecwen ever met.
Diana saw Tecwen´s name announced at the end of Charles´ first evening´s play. She phoned him on her mobile to congratulate as she drove her sleeping hubbie home. She then misdialled a number next afternoon and found herself talking again to Whittock. Police have complete access to these calls. Each lasted less than three and a half minutes.

There is no reason to believe Whittock was a better quizzer than Ingram. His track record on TV quizzes was dreadful and when he accessed the hot seat he won only 1,000 Pounds.
Would Martin rely on prompts from such a man??

To my mind THE most telling evidence for the dgfence is
Absence of Coding.
If Benjamin had played and had me cough to assist, do you really believe that trivial codes would not have been devised?
e.g. when the asnwer is ´A ´, have the affirmatory cough come on ´B´.
Or indicate ´A´ by a glance to one´s right. Indicate ´B´ by a sip from one´s glass of water. (?)

There is an almost infinite variety of coding to be deployed.

And if you ask me whether or not I know such codes to have been used by others on that show, I´ll decline to answer.
Except to note that one might ask whether diving in the penalty area ever occured in professional soccer matches.
Perhaps Michael Owen could be posed that question (!?)

For my co-author, the most telling evidence for the defence was absence of post-heist communications between Whittock and the Ingrams.

Concerning Ingram´s horsing around on the last two questions; Army records affirm that he had been to Paris some 10 times and shown troops around it.
I´ve already addressed his unquestionable ability qua engineer and Mensa member to knock out the bogus options for the Million Pounds question.
But please try to accept that it is a unique environment, and one which engenders peculiarity.
It´s prime time Saturday night TV entertainment. And not Mastermind.
Entertaining people is hard to resist.
I did it, to some extent.

I followed Whittock´s footsteps by asking Celador to forward a letter from myself to Peter Lee - the first 500K winner. They did so and in a lengthy reply he gave me much useful gen for getting on the show.
Lee himself spunked a lifeline on a 250K question to which he knew the answer. And then declined to play for a Million when he admits he did know the answer to that one too (!)
Another guy who declined to answer the Million Pound question was Steve Devlin. He gave the correct answer... and then said he would not affirm with ´Final answer´.
His reason being "It´s just too much money."
He really DID say that.

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