GCHQ Prevented Harry Potter Book Leak

Harry Potter Fans
Harry Potter fans rush to read the opening lines of the new and final J.K. Rowling chapter, 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' during a fans day at The Carriage Works on July 21, 2007 in Sydney, Australia. GCHQ contacted Bloomsbury in 2005 alerting the publisher to copies of the penultimate book 'Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince' leaked online. Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

GCHQ, the British intelligence and surveillance agency set up to monitor electronic communication, intervened to stop an online leak of the sixth Harry Potter instalment back in 2005, it has been revealed.

The agency discovered the leaked copy of The Half Blood-Prince book on the internet and immediately got in touch with Nigel Newton, an executive director at Bloomsbury at the time. However, after a page was read to an editor at the publishing house, concerns quickly diminished, BBC News reports. "I got them to read a page to our editor and she said, 'No, that's a fake,'" said Newton.

"If newspapers splashed 'Dumbledore dies' what pleasure is there going to be for a kid reading it? The enemies stood to ruin a great deal of pleasure for the world," Newton told Australia's ABC Radio.

"It was completely mad and we were at the eye of the storm - I remember Jo Rowling phoning me once after she had delivered a new book saying, 'please will you release the name of the title because I have people outside searching my trash can looking for bits of paper'.

"We had to go into a complete security lockdown because people were trying to steal the manuscript."

However the publisher made clear that there were a small number of special cases where exceptions were made and early copies were given out ahead of publication.

"There was [an instance] where a child was going to die of an awful childhood condition before the book came out," he said.

The seven instalments in the Harry Potter series sold over 450 million copies globally.

The next chapter will be released this summer at The Palace Theatre in July 2016 and the book Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts I & II will follow.