Leading article: A code cracked

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The Independent Online

It was always a ludicrous case that the two authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail brought against the American novelist Dan Brown. Winning the case would have meant them establishing in the High Court that their supposedly factual history of the church was, effectively, a work of fiction. Surely a first for academia: kamikaze historians. By rejecting their claim that the best-selling hokum of The Da Vinci Code was based on their earlier work, Justice Peter Smith yesterday denied posterity an amusing legal footnote.

But consider this: did Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh really lose yesterday? The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail is back in the top 40 book sales chart thanks to the publicity generated by this case. It has not done sales of The Da Vinci Code harm either. And here's the clincher: both are published by Random House. Is it possible that both sides were secretly in this together? Conspiracy theories are clearly catching.

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