Charles Ingram, the man convicted for cheating on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, has praised new drama Quiz’s retelling of the story – as his lawyer branded the case against him as “ludicrous”.
The former army major has been tweeting in support of the three-part ITV show, which concluded on Wednesday evening, saying that it was balanced and shares his side of the story.
Both Charles and his wife Diana Ingram, along with college lecturer Tecwen Whittock, were convicted of using an elaborate coughing scheme to cheat their way to the £1m top prize in 2001.
They were both handed suspended jail terms after being found guilty of procuring the execution of a valuable security by deception following a high-profile trial in 2003, but have always maintained their innocence.
Quiz, starring Matthew Macfadyen and Sian Clifford as the couple and Michael Sheen as show host Chris Tarrant, has brought the story to the fore once again after almost 20 years, with many viewers on social media now questioning the couple’s guilt.
Tarrant has said in interviews he is convinced the couple cheated and that while the drama is “well done” it is “not factual”, while Phil Davies, the senior floor manager for the show at the time, has told Sky News he also believes they are guilty.
Writing on Twitter on Thursday, Ingram said: “Some say #Quiz wasn’t balanced & I can see why. But it was balanced.”
He also hit out at Celador, the production company behind the hit show.
“Celador’s case has been brutally broadcast for 19 years with nothing from us (to the vindicated winner so too the spoils) & their position was made v clear in #Quiz,” he said.
“And they have far more tweeters than I do!”
In another tweet giving the show five stars after the first episode on Monday, he praised ITV and described the show as “gutsy”.
Rhona Friedman, the Ingrams’ criminal defence solicitor, is currently working on submitting new legal arguments to the Court of Appeal, saying new analysis of the coughing at the heart of the scandal will cast doubt on their convictions.
“Back at the time of the trial in 2003, cough analysis wasn’t a thing, and in fact there was a prosecution expert who came along and said that cough analysis is uncharted territory,” she said.
“Advances have taken place since then which does allow analysis which lends itself to some degree of authorship.
“I don’t want to over-state it, but there is an ability now to discern between different people making coughs in a way that wasn’t possible in 2003.”
Ms Friedman also said there are “other troubling aspects about the integrity of the trial exhibits that, together with the new cough analysis, work to, I think, undermine the safety of the conviction”.
The solicitor says she is “convinced” the couple are innocent.
“I looked at the evidence, I’m not just being bamboozled by personality and the evidence is really troubling,” she said.
“I think if the trial had been done a different way, I don’t think they would have been convicted.
“That is not to criticise anybody, you can always look back in hindsight and say something should have happened a different way, but I do think there were intrinsic aspects of the trial process which were unfair to them.
“And perhaps they might not have been allowed if a different approach had been taken.”
Ms Friedman said Charles Ingram had not been in contact with Whittock before the show.
“You’ve got Charles who had never even been in contact with this guy Whittock, who is supposed to recognise his coughs while he’s sitting in a hot seat, under studio lights, with Chris Tarrant in his face, doing all his Chris Tarrant-isms, in front of millions of people, and play act as if he doesn’t know an answer or he’s not being suggested the answer,” she said.
“It’s just preposterous, it’s ludicrous, it just doesn’t hang together.
“And then you meet Charles and Diana and they are not people who are capable of entering into this kind of criminal conspiracy, or any kind of criminal conspiracy, where they would risk everything in this way.”
While the Ingrams avoided jail, they were publicly ridiculed and continue to be notorious for the “coughing major” crime.
However, they continued to appear on TV following their court case.
Charles Ingram starred on Channel 4’s The Games in 2004, alongside celebrity guests such as model Linda Lusardi and Boyzone singer Shane Lynch.
In 2006, the couple appeared on a celebrity-paired version of The Weakest Link, alongside the likes of the late racing pundit John McCririck and his wife Jenny.
Memorably, the Ingrams also appeared on Celebrity Wife Swap, with the late Big Brother star Jade Goody and her then-partner Jeff Brazier.