Author Dan Brown's testimony is suspicious, lawyers say

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated March 21, 2006 08:00 AM
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Credit: Ian Nicholson/PA/ABACA

Arguments in the Da Vinci Code copyright-infringement case closed on Monday in London with the lawyer for the plaintiffs suggesting that author Dan Brown’s testimony was unreliable. He also questioned why Brown’s wife Blythe, who helped research the book, was not called to testify.

Attorney Jonathan Rayner James, whose clients Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh say Brown stole their ideas for his best seller (and who are suing the book’s publishers), said the novelist’s testimony should be treated with “deep suspicion,” the Associated Press reports.

Judge Peter Smith said he would give his verdict in the case before the current court term ends on April 13. Brown, who flew to London from his home in New Hampshire and testified over three days last week, was not in court Monday.

Baigent and Leigh claim Brown’s book “appropriated the architecture” of their 1982 nonfiction book, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. Both books explore theories – dismissed by theologians – that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, the couple had a child and the bloodline survives.

In a written statement delivered to the court Monday, Rayner James said Brown had copied from The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, but acknowledged he may have done so “unwittingly because of the research materials supplied by Blythe Brown.”

Added the lawyer: “He had almost no recollection of matters that related to timing. He would struggle to recall a year, was rarely able to recall a month. His general attitude in cross-examination was uncooperative.”

If Baigent and Leigh succeed in securing an injunction to bar the use of their material, they could hold up the scheduled May 19 release of Ron Howard’s film The Da Vinci Code, starring Tom Hanks. Sony Pictures says it plans to release the movie as scheduled.