Secret code hidden in Da Vinci case judgment
A SECRET code has been hidden in a High Court judgment by the judge at the centre of the Da Vinci Code copyright hearing.
Mr Justice Peter Smith took a leaf out of Dan Brown's global bestseller to hide his own message in the 71-page court document.
The italicised letters in the first seven paragraphs of the document spell out "Smithy Code".
Over the next few pages more letters stand out in italics, but in an apparently random order.
The move to hide a message in a formal High Court judgment is thought to be unprecedented in legal history.
Mr Smith refused to confirm that the letters were a code, but said: "They don't look like typos, do they? I can't discuss the judgment, but I don't see why a judgment should not be a matter of fun."
He added he would probably confirm it if someone broke the code, which he said was "not a difficult thing to do".
The judge ruled in favour of Dan Brown earlier this month after a hearing about the sources of The Da Vinci Code, which has sold more than 40 million copies and earned its author 250 million since publication in 2003.
Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, who wrote The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, sued their mutual publisher, Random House, claiming that Brown had stolen their ideas on theories that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, that they had a child and that their bloodline still exists.
Those wanting to break the code in Mr Smith's judgment could look at the alphabet "codex" code-breaking device found in The Da Vinci Code for inspiration.
In the novel, Harvard professor Robert Langdon and French cryptographer Sophie Neveu use the code to try to unravel the location of the Holy Grail.
Lawyer Dan Tench said he noticed the code when he spotted odd italicised script in an online copy.
He said: "To encrypt a message in this manner, in a High Court judgment, no less? It's out there. I think he was getting into the spirit of the thing. It doesn't take away from the validity of the judgment. He was just having a bit of fun."
A spokeswoman for the Judicial Office, which is responsible for running the judiciary, said she was unaware of the secret code until last night.
She said: "The fact that some of the letters are in italics does not in any way affect the judgment."
Mr Smith emerged as a colourful character during the three-week trial, with a series of acerbic questions.
In his judgment the judge hinted at his admiration for some the cunning word-play devices in The Da Vinci Code.
He said the fact that Mr Brown use an anagram of Leigh and Baigent's names to form the character Sir Leigh Teabing was not "anything other than a compliment".
• The judgment can be found at: http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/ [pdf]
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