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Judge writes a code in Dan Brown judgment

IF YOU have finished cracking the ciphers in The Da Vinci Code and the reason behind Mona Lisa's smile, get ready for some more teasers. This time, the codes are not inserted by Da Vinci or author Dan Brown, but the British judge who pronounced the verdict that the bestselling novel was not plagiarised from a non-fiction.

india Updated: Apr 28, 2006 14:12 IST
VIJAY Dutt

IF YOU have finished cracking the ciphers in The Da Vinci Code and the reason behind Mona Lisa's smile, get ready for some more teasers. This time, the codes are not inserted by Da Vinci or author Dan Brown, but the British judge who pronounced the verdict that the bestselling novel was not plagiarised from a non-fiction.

Justice Peter Smith has apparently included randomly italicised alphabets across the 71-page written judgment. Dan Tench, an English lawyer who was poring over the online version of the April 7 verdict, first thought they were typos. It begins on page one itself with "S" in the word "claimants" italicised.

As Tench put together the italicised letters on Wednesday, it read, "smithcodeJaeiextostpsacgreamqwfkadpmqz". Gibberish? Look carefully. It starts with "smith code" playing on the judge's name. It was not the typist's mistake, it seems Justice Smith had just got into the spirit of things.

Smith's move to hide a message in a formal high court judgment is said to be unprecedented in legal history. Though the judge was tight-lipped about the hullabaloo, he teasingly remarked, "I don't see why a judgment should not be a matter of fun." He added that he would "probably" confirm the code if someone broke it.

The code lovers are asked to take inspiration from codex, the alphabet-inspired code-breaking device used in the novel. The Da Vinci Code, which has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide, has many ciphers and symbols which the tweed-wearing symbologist Robert Langdon and sleuthette Sophie crack. A movie version, starring Tom Hanks, will be released on May 19.

First Published: Apr 28, 2006 14:12 IST