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Simply Potty

It was a work of fantasy of which J K Rowling would have been proud.

The Sun’s ‘exclusive’ page three lead on Monday told how Hertford classmates of Harry Potter star Rupert Grint had been banned from asking him for his autograph.

Senior staff at Richard Hale School had apparently held a special assembly warning pupils not to pester the young thespian, who plays Ron Weasley in the Potter movies.

“Anybody flouting the rules gets a lesson-length detention,” a source told The Sun.

All good fun, except for one minor detail — Rupert left the school in July 2004!

A bemused Nigel Grint, father of the star, told the Mercury: “It’s all a bit of a mystery — I don’t know where it’s come from.

“He left the school last summer after completing his GCSEs, and even when he was there, there were never any strict stipulations about that [signing autographs]. It’s a bit bizarre.”

The story was quickly picked up by other news organisations, including the Scotsman newspaper and web-based Ananova.

Richard Hale also received calls on Monday from journalists on four national newspapers and from the BBC hoping to follow up the story.

Rupert’s agent, Chris Harris, said: “It always amazes us when we get these stories, but it’s the timing of this one that’s really strange.

“We weren’t contacted by The Sun. I can only assume they were rummaging around for stories and found this one in their files.

“It’s not true anyway – he spent very little time at the school because he was filming so often. So there was never a ban.”

He said Rupert was “slightly surprised” by the story.

Richard Hale headteacher Steve Neate said: “Rupert had an untroubled time here because the boys respected his privacy. The headteacher at the time, Dumbledore [Mike] James, made an informal request to the boys in assembly ahead of Rupert coming back from filming just to give him space and treat him normally.

“There were no written rules about it and there wasn’t any case of detentions being given because the boys showed good sense. Once Rupert was in school, he blended in. When I came to the school it was hard to pick him out because he didn’t have a big following at break or lunchtimes.

“We do follow his progress, but we were amazed to see our name in the press again. There were a few wry smiles here about how out of date their story was.”

The next instalment of the Harry Potter series is released on November 18. The Goblet of Fire is expected to follow in its predecessors’ footsteps and become a massive box office hit.

Original article found here: Hertfordshire Mercury | September 23rd, 2005

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