‘Millionaire’ scam trio found guilty

Criminals sentenced, fined for 'coded coughs'

LONDON — After a monthlong trial, a contestant, his wife and an audience member were found guilty Monday of cheating to win the £1 million ($1.56 million) prize of the U.K. version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”

The judge at London’s Southwark crown court sentenced Major Charles Ingram and his wife Diane, who helped to set up the scam, to 18 months in prison suspended for two years and fined each $23,400 plus $15,600 in costs.

Lecturer Tecwen Whittock, who used “coded coughs” to signal the right answer during the taping of the show, was sentenced to 12 months suspended for two years and ordered to pay $11,700 costs.

Commercial channel ITV did not broadcast the disputed edition of the show, which was due to air on Sept. 18, 2001. However, it was screened in court as part of the prosecution case.

A spokesman for ITV said: “ITV and Celador (the producer) are pleased that this matter is now resolved and that the reputation and integrity of ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’ remain intact. The criminal investigation was instigated to protect the show against the possibility of any wrongdoing, and that action has now been vindicated.”

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