Sunday 10 April 2016 10:40 am

Harry Potter and the curious tale of GCHQ

How do you keep Harry Potter news under wraps? With the help of a spy agency – and not the fictional Ministry of Magic kind either

With no real life invisibility cloaks or veritaserum potions available, the publishers of the enormously successful series had a little help from a surprising place – the UK's spy agency GCHQ.

Nigel Newton, the founder of Bloomsbury, which published the Harry Potter books, has told of being contacted by GCHQ in 2005 over suspicions that the eagerly anticipated sixth book – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – had been leaked online.

"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’,” said Newton in a radio interview in Australia last week, the Sunday Times reports

And the spy agency's comment on the matter of not-quite national security? A spokesperson told the newspaper: “We don’t comment on our defence against the dark arts.”