By Roger Pearson
The author of The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown, may have emerged winner in the epic High Court battle in which he was accused of plagiarism in respect of his multi million best seller. As far as the media was concerned, though, the hands down winner was The Lawyer magazine.
The world’s media had covered the case and assembled in near unprecedented numbers for Mr Justice Peter Smith to give his judgment on Friday afternoon.
However, it then emerged that the judge’s decision had been "leaked" and had been on the Lawyer’s web site for a full hour before he gave his verdict.
The judge prefaced his judgment by saying that he had drawn to the attention of lawyers the need for the result to be kept under wraps until he delivered it in court.
However, he continued: "Despite what I said when I reserved judgment it has transpired The Lawyer has for over an hour had the result of this judgment on its web-site."
He indicated that the matter would be raised again at a later stage.
From the point of view of a media operation, however, the judge and the court administrators this time deserve praise.
The judge read out a concise and easily understandable summary of his decision in court and copies of the judgment and summary were then made available.
However, before the copies on paper were available the court administrators had the judgment on the Court Services web-site in record time.
A court insider said: "There was criticism of the way seating arrangements were handled during the court hearing. Today though every-one acquitted themselves superbly. Few in the media could criticise the way the judgment was handled, apart from the fact it was leaked an hour beforehand. But that was no fault of the judge or the court administration."
This afternoon the story, claiming "a worldwide exclusive", had been removed from The Lawyer’s web site.