Da Vinci Court in London: Leigh Proves Strong Witness Against Brown
The afternoon session started when Richard Leigh was called to the stand and contrary to audience expectations he proved a formidable witness.
The legal implications of his testimony might have been different, but it didn't seem Mr. Baldwin (Random House barrister) extracted much from him. Leigh was the writer of the book while Baigent was the researcher, so perhaps there was less to draw out, but the best Baldwin could do was find a few points of text that Leigh had copied from Baigent's notes that were broadly similar to a few of his sources.
There were some clear references to clear textual similarities with DVC (p. 88 of HBHG is nearly identical to p. 245 of DVC, for example) and the judge made reference to the fact that Baldwin had not cross-examined on the similarities as he did not dispute they were there.
There was some debate over whether HBHG sold well in the US because of its "central themes" and Leigh made a convicing statement that the so-called "central themes" were a legal construct foisted onto the book by the case but that the core of the case resolved around the Magdalene bloodline and the central themes all led to that.
To a layman that sounded very plausible--what bearing it has on UK copyright law is unclear.
In response to that statement, the judge asked Leigh "Is that why we're here?"
Leigh responded that Brown should have given them credit in the front of his book as many authors do.
Baldwin's last question was to suggest Leigh was misleading in his statement that he had seen DB's copy of HBHG and that it was heavily annotated. Baldwin said RH's solicitors had had it in their possession all the time it had been in the UK and had no record of him having seen it. Leigh said he'd seen photocopies and when he said "copy" that's what he meant.
Baldwin let it drop at that -- although it is worth noting there was some suggestion earlier in the week that there is a dispute between the parties about those annotations. RH's lawyers say Blythe Brown annotated it after the original complaint was made, Baigent&Leigh's solicitors appear to suggest that the annotations represent the copying that would help make their case.
Leigh did very well on the stand. The most telling questions to him came from the judge who pointed to DVC page 339 where HBHG is explicitly mentioned as an international best seller. Leigh suggested that the reference was condescending and patronising.
"That's because the person making the comments is a condescending and patronising person" replied the judge. B&L's barrister appeared happy enough with the testimony that he had no questions. Except for a few relatively minor amendments, Leigh's witness statement seems to be almost entirely intact. How telling the difference between the legal "central points" and the "real themes" is was unclear.