We just learned a rather interesting revelation: British spy agency GCHQ stopped a leak of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, the sixth book in the successful series.
Nigel Newton, part of the publisher Bloomsbury, revealed to ABC Conversations that shortly before the publication of the book he received a very strange phone call indeed.
“If newspapers splashed ‘Dumbledore dies’ what pleasure is there going to be for a kid reading it? The enemies stood to ruin a great deal of pleasure for the world. We fortunately had many allies. GCHQ rang me up and said, ‘We’ve detected an early copy of this book on the internet’. I got them to read a page to our editor and she said, ‘No, that’s a fake’. We also had judges and the police on our side.”
“It was completely mad and we were at the eye of the storm – I remember Jo Rowling phoning me once after she had delivered a new book saying, ‘please will you release the name of the title because I have people outside searching my trash can looking for bits of paper’. We had to go into a complete security lockdown because people were trying to steal the manuscript.”
Ordinarily, GCHQ concerns itself with top secret matters of national security, but someone there must have been a fan if they took the time to call Mr. Newton, even if the leak turned out to be fake.
Mr. Newton continued by saying that at the time, The Sun went so far as to send a reporter with £5,000 in cash to circle the printing press and offer workers within money to steal a copy of the book.
However, there were a couple of exceptions made by the publisher about the early release of the manuscript.
“There was [an instance] where a child was going to die of an awful childhood condition before the book came out. So we did the only thing we could do and referred it to the author to decide how to handle it because it’s her story, not ours. History doesn’t tell the outcome of that sad story, but I’m sure it was a happy one.”
When asked about the events, GCHQ only said: “We don’t comment on our defense against the dark arts.”