Including the 2006 court case brought by Michael Baigent and Richard
Leigh against Random House Publishers.
Random House Publishers were at the time publishers of both The Da Vinci
Code by Dan Brown and the Holy Blood and the Holy Grail (HBHG) by
Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln.
Basically Baigent and Leigh were sueing their own publisher for
plagiarism. It is perhaps my duty to point out that the movie starring
Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou was due to be released later that same year.
At the end of the much publicised trial both books, The Da Vinci Code
and Holy Blood and the revised and illustrated Holy Grail boasting
Exclusive new Material (out the year before the trial) received massive boosts to their
According to sources the normal edition of Holy Blood and the Holy Grail
increased sales by ten fold.
In the previous year (2005) Century Publishing of
Random House 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V 2SA;
had brought out a new version of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail
describing itself as "Illustrated Edition with exclusive New Material".
ISBN:1 844 13840 2 which retailed at the expensive for the time £20.
So nothing suspicious there then.
It is important to note that Dan Brown, the author of the Da
Vinci Code, was not the defendant in the trail but Random House Group
It is perhaps good to list the witnesses 'called' to testify at
top two are relevant these being Richard Leigh
the co-author of HBHG &
Dan Brown author of The Da Vinci
Blythe Brown is the wife of Dan
Brown and she will become more interesting later.
Blythe Brown did not testify at the
Mr Ruben (Who?)
Interestingly his name was mispelt in the judge's summing up
Steve Rubin was the
President of Doubleday and various other companies in the Random
House Group, he is quoted as saying:
“….I have certainly never read anything like Mr
Brown’s work. I believe then, and still believe now, that this type of
book had never been written before”.
your "expert" input Mr Rubin. Is that it then?
Mr Ruben or Rubin was later to be ousted by the publishers.
The presiding Judge MR JUSTICE PETER SMITH
said of Mr Janson-Smith
"His evidence did not assist me at all in the overall pattern except
to suggest there might have been discussions between him and Mr Leigh
when Mr Leigh may have given an impression that litigation was brought
for the purpose of extracting money in the expectation of settlement. I
do not need to form a view as to that. All I will say is that if Mr
Leigh believed that he demonstrated a folly which inflicts Claimants
from time to time. It is a very dangerous exercise to commence
litigation in the hope that the other side will settle and make a
payment. I rather suspect this will be driven home to Mr Leigh (if that
was his thought) at the conclusion of this judgment."
John Peter Janson-Smith was
Ian Fleming's literacy agent
Michael Baigent did not testify at the trial
We get to the former Mrs Dan Brown
First let me state in case you don't know that the final judgement found
in favour of Random House (AKA Dan Brown) that he had not plagiarised
Holy Blood and the Holy Grail.
The judge found instances in the book Holy Blood and the Holy Grail (US
edition) owned by Dan Brown and Blythe Brown of annotations made by
In the margin on page 352 Blythe ( not Dan) had written in pencil
Judge Peter Smith said:
"As I have said I am firmly of the view that Blythe Brown at least had
access to HBHG before the Synopsis was written. It does
not actually matter when she used it or had access to it or when Mr
Brown saw it or had access to it. The real question to be answered is
the extent to which it was used. I have already set out my finding as to
when HBHG was used by Blythe Brown."
With regard to the
Synopsis it used for Dan Brown's book was summed up by Judge
Peter Smith thus:
"Taking into account the generality of the central themes and the
repeated references to them, not only in HBHG and DVC, and bearing in
mind that Blythe Brown has not come to
explain how she did her research, I conclude that, in
the main, the majority of the Central Themes were drawn from HBHG in a
language sense but it was not the sole source of Blythe Brown’s efforts.
She had the other books and they were used for the Synopsis. However, it
seems to me clear that when it came to providing the Langdon and Teabing
lectures a different pattern emerges. The Teacher, so called in the
Synopsis, had no name. When it came to write the rest of the book at a
later stage he was given the name Leigh Teabing,
which is drawn from HBHG. It is logical, in my view, that having drawn
the name from the authors of HBHG, Mr and Mrs Brown would do that at the
time when they were writing the lecture parts of the second part of DVC.
That is when they introduce HBHG into the list of books and it is in my
view when the detail of the language of the Themes is created. I have
already observed that in my view Blythe
Brown had done significant research using HBHG from some
time in 2000. I do not believe Mr Brown used it, as I have said, for the
Synopsis, but it was deployed at this later stage when these lectures
were written. As the bulk of the material
set out in the themes is to be found in HBHG, I can not believe that
Blythe Brown would have adopted a scatter gun approach to find these
various themes in a series of other books. She used the other books to
expand slightly the material which came from HBHG."
Notice that Blythe Brown did not turn up to be questioned
under oath and was not summoned to attend by the accusers. (Strange!)
(the Teacher in Brown's book)
The name is actually made up from
Richard Leigh and Teabing is an anagram of Baigent.
and yet the writer(s) of the novel
said they hadn't used any details from Holy Blood Holy Grail according to the judge.
No details but used the actual authors
names of Holy Blood Holy Grail.
The Templar Revelation
"Much quoted" as being from
where Brown recieved ALL of his research information.
The authors were extras in
the movie starring Tom Hanks.
starting on the research for DVC was started in May 2000 Brown says
started buying books. One of the first books he purchased (he said) was Templar
Revelation TR. The Synopsis he says was written long before they bought
or consulted HBHG.
On the cover of Templar Revelation (US
version) TR is this statement.
“One of the most fascinating books I
have read since the Holy Blood and the Holy Grail” – Colin Wilson.
Holy Blood and the Holy grail (HBHG) is extensively cited in the text.
After the first annotations at the
front of the book in Mr Brown’s copy of TR the next significant
annotation is at page 39 (US Version) where HBHG is referred to
for the first time. The title of the book is actually underlined and
along side it Blythe Brown has written “get
this book”. Presumeably Brown is researching DVC still at this point or why would "Get this book" be important. At
page 46 (US version) where the text is dealing with HBHG again parts are
highlighted (by Blythe Brown).
Finally in this context, TR reports on HBHG on page 48 (US version
59 English version) as follows:
“the mass of evidence assembled by
Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln in the Holy Blood Holy Grail for the
historical existence of the Priory is unassailable. And yet more
evidence – which has been amassed by other researchers – was published
in the 1996 revised and updated edition of their book. (This is
essential reading for anyone interested in this mystery.) ”
The following interesting conversation
took place at the trial between:
“MR. JUSTICE PETER
SMITH (Q) and Dan Brown (A) who was in the dock:
The page numbers refer to the US
version of The Templar Revelation
Q............can I ask you
to look at page 48 of Templar Revelation, second paragraph at the end.
Do you see what they say about Holy Blood, Holy Grail?
A. The second paragraph?
Q. It starts: "The mass of
A. On page 49?
A. "The mass of evidence",
yes. (Pause for reading) Yes.
Q. How did you miss it?
A. How did I miss it?
Q. Templar Revelation tells
you Holy Blood, Holy Grail is "essential reading" for anyone interested
in this mystery and yet that is the only book you did not look at.
A. Actually, I am sure
there is an enormous bibliography here of material that we did not look
at. In fact, on page 39 there is an actual note that says go and look at
the Holy Blood Holy Grail.
Q. That would not really
help you. The two things would suggest that you would actually go and
get Holy Blood, Holy Grail as "essential reading", it says.
A. And, as I have said,
yes, it was essential reading we used it at some point. The question
here is when it entered the mix.
Q. You get Templar
Revelations around May 2000, you are preparing the synopsis ultimately
leading to its release in January 2001. The Templar Revelations is a
book that you heavily rely upon and it tells you that HBHG is essential
reading. Yet when leading up to the synopsis you want me to believe that
you did not look at it?
A. That is exactly what I
want you to believe. It is a very short period of time. I am dealing
with broad strokes. I have everything I need in the books in my
synopsis, in that bibliography. I would not have been eager to pick up a
book this thick about specifics when Templar Revelation so beautifully
outlines the points I needed; the same with Margaret Starbird. I am in a
synopsis phase. I am looking at the big picture, not the details”.
What Dan Brown is saying that he has
acquired all the books he needed for material for his novel accept the
one described to him as essential reading.
The ones that had brought litigation
Brown had read HBHG and used some of the information.
A reminder that Blythe Brown was not
summed to testify by those representing Baigent and Leigh.
Curiouser and Curiouer.
Now here is
Judge Peter Smith on Blythe Brown
"With that in mind however I accept
Mr Brown’s evidence that he did not use HBHG when he wrote the Synopsis.
The single point identified in this extract of cross examination
referred to above is equally explicable on the basis of Mr Brown being
caught out in paragraph 123 in being overly casual. I do not accept that
this single point is sufficient to reject his evidence on this point. It
is quite possible that the annotation occurred after the Synopsis was
written when Sophie was linked to Sauniere.
He is supported in my view by an
examination of the theme of the Synopsis. It seems to me that the theme
of the Synopsis is clearly derived from WAJ (Woman with the Alabaster
Jar), TR (Templar Revelation), HK (Hiram Key) and GG (Goddess in
the Gospels). It concentrates on the artistic elements of Leonardo da
Vinci and the Sacred Feminine Line. I accept that this was down to
Blythe Brown’s beliefs in this area and I can see and determine in my
view that those were the sources for the Synopsis. 33
Use of HBHG By Blythe
However that does not lead to
the conclusion that Blythe Brown did not have HBHG at that time and had
not prepared research based on it. In my view later evidence as I will
set out in this judgment plainly demonstrates that she was using HBHG as
a source of material to put to Mr Brown when the Synopsis was written
and earlier. It is possible (and given the passage of time the omission
is quite understandable) that in discussions between Blythe and Mr Brown
the word “Mer” was discussed in the context the Merovingians. Mr Brown
could easily then have incorporated that in the Synopsis without
appreciating that she had taken it from HBHG already.
appears further in this judgment there is significant other material
which points inexorably to Blythe Brown having used HBHG extensively
much earlier (as early as 2000 in my view) than Mr Brown admits. I do
not accept that he necessarily knew that and I
suspect that this is the area of difficulty which has led to Blythe
Brown not giving evidence."
that this is Judge Peter Smith saying this
Dan Brown later said that he had not
used Holy Blood Holy Grail for his material but has used Margaret
Starbird's book Woman with the Alabaster Jar and Goddess in the Gospels
for a large part of his synopisis for The Da Vinci Code
Margaret Starbird says in her
introduction that she got the basis of the story for her books from Holy
Blood and the Holy Grail as early as 1985.
Judge Peter Smith says:
"It is even clearer in the case of
WAJ (Woman with the Alabaster Jar) where Margaret Starbird, in her
preface, sets out why she came to write the book. As part of her
interest in Judeo – Christian Scriptures in 1985 she read HBHG. She says
she was frankly appalled and believed that the authors of HBHG were not
only wrong but their book bordered on blasphemy. She says (rightly in my
opinion) that the core of HBHG was the marriage of Jesus and Mary
Magdalene. She, being a catholic, assumed the authors of the heretical
book were mistaken and that therefore it is quite wrong to believe that
the established church had suppressed ruthlessly the important female
role in the early church. She set about finding the truth. She believed
it would be an easy exercise and interestingly she started at the
paintings and the symbolism to be found in paintings. After her detailed
investigations she completely turned round and came to the conclusion
that “there was real substance in their theories set forth [HBHG]”. It
is clear, therefore, that WAJ is the product of an independent process
of reasoning on the part of Margaret Starbird. One example suffice is to
show that this is the case. She refers (page 61) to the child of Jesus
and Mary Magdalene being called Sarah. That is plainly the product of
her researches; as I have already said it is not to be found in HBHG. I
have already observed that that aspect is also to be found in DVC."
Da Vinci Code
Documentaries by Paul Smith
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