A secret code embedded in the text of a court ruling in the case of Dan Brown's bestseller The DaVinci Code has been cracked, but far from revealing an ancient conspiracy it is simply an obscure reference to a Royal Navy admiral.
British High Court Justice Peter Smith, who handed down a ruling that Brown had not plagiarised his book, had embedded his own secret message in his judgment by italicising letters scattered throughout the 71-page document.
In Brown's book, a secret code reveals an ancient conspiracy to hide facts about Jesus Christ.
The judge's own code briefly caused a wave of amused speculation when it was discovered by a lawyer this week, nearly a month after the ruling was handed down.
But after a day working on it, the lawyer, Dan Tench, said he'd cracked it. The judge's code was based on the Fibonacci sequence, a mathematical progression discussed in the book.
"After much trial and error, we found a formula which fitted," wrote Tench, a lawyer who had nothing to do with the Brown case but discovered the italicised letters when studying the ruling.
The judge's secret message was: "Jackie Fisher, who are you? Dreadnought," Tench wrote in the Guardian newspaper.
Judge Smith is known as a navy buff, and Fisher was a Royal Navy admiral who developed the idea for a giant battleship called the HMS Dreadnought.
Judge Smith has not made any public comment, but Tench wrote that the judge had e-mailed him to confirm he had guessed the secret code right.