London's "Times" newspaper reports that the judge who cleared Dan Brown of plagiarising the plot of his bestseller The Da Vinci Code has left his own secret message in the ruling. 2

London’s “Times” newspaper reports that the judge who cleared Dan Brown of plagiarising the plot of his bestseller The Da Vinci Code has left his own secret message in the ruling.

Justice Peter Smith, who ruled earlier this month that Brown did not steal his plot ideas from an earlier non-fiction work, published his 71-page judgment with a seemingly random series of italicisations throughout.

However, lawyers insisted the italics are not a mistake. Mark Stephens, a media specialist at the London solicitors Finers Stephens Innocent, said: “It looks like Justice Smith has deliberately left a series of italicised letters in the judgment, which when put together spell something out.”

Justice Smith, who could not be reached for comment this evening, told Bloomberg in an interview today that the code was genuine, calling it “a bit of fun.”

Stephens and other lawyers are already hard at work to crack Justice Smith’s code, the first nine letters of which spell out “Smith Code”. However, not all of the italicised letters spell complete words leaving lawyers struggling to decode the message.

Justice Smith ruled against the two American authors of a 1982 book, The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail, on April 7 saying that Brown did not infringe their copyright. Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh were ordered to pay £2m costs and denied leave to appeal.

Conan Chitham, Head of Intellectual Property law at Mishcon de Reya, said: “We have yet to crack the code but we are working on it and we are intrigued as to where the judge found the time to concoct such a plan!”

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