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Spies helped keep Harry Potter’s chamber of secrets safe

BRITAIN'S spy agency, GCHQ, intervened to prevent the sixth instalment of the Harry Potter book series being leaked on the internet, it has emerged.

Nigel Newton, the founder of Bloomsbury Publishing, was contacted by GCHQ a decade ago to relay fears that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince may have been leaked on the internet before its official publication date.

"We fortunately had many allies," Mr Newton said in Australian radio interview last week.

"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'."

A source at GCHQ told The Sunday Times: "We don't comment on our defence against the dark arts."

Excitement over the book's publication more than a decade ago led to heightened security at the publishing house that included guard dogs and security personnel.

A report in The Independent from 2005 detailed how two men were charged with firearms offences and handling stolen material after a dramatic operation to recover stolen copies of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Two copies of the book - one of the most eagerly anticipated publications at the time - were offered to tabloid newspapers at a pre-arranged meeting in Northamptonshire.

However, both copies of the book were recovered and the incident prompted author JK Rowling to obtain an injunction forbidding the leaking of any of the novel's details.



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