From today's Times Online:
In another twist to the publishing phenomenon, it was disclosed yesterday that the judge in the recent plagiarism court case included a coded message in his written judgment.
Contained within certain words, Mr Justice Peter Smith wrote certain letters in bold italic. On first inspection, there seems to be no pattern or reason why the letters are chosen and they could be easily viewed as a typographical errors. But Dan Tench, an observant solicitor at the London-based law firm Olswang, thought otherwise. “We’re not sure yet what it means, but we’re working on it,” he said.
This cracks me up. Was the judge so bored during testimony that he sat there making up his own little codes? While everyone in the room believed he was making thoughtful notes on the case, was he actually dithering over whether to go with a simple substitution code or something a bit fancier to convey his wry message?
The first letters on page 5, if they are not an anagram, spell out the words “smith code J”. The judge is Mr Justice Peter Smith. Or maybe the J stands for “Jesus” or “judgment”.
Page 5 s m i t h c o d e J
Page 6 a e i e x
Page 7 t o s t
Page 8 p s a
Page 9 c g r e a
Page 10 m q w f
Page 11 k a
Page 12 d p m q
Page 13 z
Click over to the Times article for details, including the judge's coy hint about how his code might be cracked. And if you want to look at the entire judgment, the PDF file is here.
Unlike the book, the movie, and the court case, this is a juicy story. I can hardly wait to find out how it ends. In the meantime, I would adore reading your comments on this subject. What message is the judge trying to send? (Wild speculation will not only be acceptable, but actively encouraged.)
By the way, I noticed there are two q's but no u's in the judge's message, which would appear to rule out a simple anagram.
U P D A T E
Friday, April 28
The judge's code has been cracked, and it turns out not to have been terribly imaginative. Read this morning's article in The Guardian if you still care.