8 April, 2003: Ahem

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So, Major Charles Ingram et al. have been found guilty of `procuring the execution of a valuable security by deception'. Aside from wondering exactly where the `deception' was here -- after all, he plainly answered the questions correctly -- this is sad news.

I don't know whether they can appeal, and none of the news reports address the question. I find it a little hard to believe that they can be guilty beyond reasonable doubt, especially since the judge wound up accepting a majority verdict. Majority verdicts are a 1960s Roy Jenkins innovation, designed to require gangsters to intimidate two or more members of a jury in order to produce a acquittal. I haven't seen any suggestion that intimidation was involved here, so I can only assume that this innovation has come adrift from its original intention, and is simply being used to avoid a hung jury and an expensive retrial.

In any case, I can't see anything much wrong with cheating on a television quiz. Celador, of course, don't seem to -- they're milking this for all it's worth, and will apparently be broadcasting a special documentary about the case. Putting up 1 million for members of the public to grab will, of course, invite a certain amount of ingenuity from members of the public, and that is commendable. In this case the scheme -- if a scheme at all -- was pretty amateurish, and may tell us more about the Royal Engineers than we would like to know. Regardless, a little bit of ingenuity and teamwork seems far more creditable than simply cramming a collection of fatuous `general knowledge' trivia.

In other news

Copyright (c) 2003 Chris Lightfoot; available under a Creative Commons License.