9

Harry and Mr Weasley only find out about the change in the time of Harry's hearing because of Perkins, who works in Mr Weasley's office. Their conversation gives the impression that it was pure coincidence that Harry and Mr Weasley came in early and that Perkins was able to find them.

"Ah, Harry, this is Perkins.”
A stooped, timid-looking old wizard with fluffy white hair had just entered the room, panting.
“Oh Arthur!” he said desperately, without looking at Harry. “Thank goodness, I didn’t know what to do for the best, whether to wait here for you or not, I’ve just sent an owl to your home but you’ve obviously missed it - an urgent message came ten minutes ago -”
“I know about the regurgitating toilet,” said Mr. Weasley.
“No, no, it’s not the toilet, it’s the Potter boy’s hearing - they’ve changed the time and venue - it starts at eight o’clock now and it’s down in old Courtroom Ten."
“Down in old - but they told me - Merlin’s beard -”
Mr. Weasley looked at his watch, let out a yelp, and leapt from his chair.
“Quick, Harry, we should have been there five minutes ago!”
(Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 7, The Ministry of Magic).

What isn't clear is how Perkins might've found out about the change in time and location. The only communication seems to have been from the Wizengamot to Harry by owl.

“Sorry,” said Harry nervously. “I-I didn’t know the time had changed.”
“That is not the Wizengamot’s fault,” said the voice. “An owl was sent to you this morning. Take your seat.”
(Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 8, The Hearing).

Considering that the whole point of the exercise of moving the hearing was to try and get Harry to miss his trial and be expelled automatically it seems strange that Perkins would be privy to this information. I'd have thought that the true trial time would be closely guarded secret within the Ministry.

Perkins clearly didn't see the owl that was sent to Grimmauld Place. So how could he have possibly known about the change in time and location?

  • 4
    It's an office, and not everyone is deliberately malignant. All it takes is one employee saying to another "Huh, did you see the time for Potters trial got changed?" and the info is going to propagate. After all, for this to work it can't be seen as a deliberate action - Fudge can't take any steps to actually conceal the change, and they have to make the minimum effort to notify those involved so they can claim Harry was the one being negligent. – DavidS Feb 27 '17 at 14:43
8

I think you may have misconstrued the order of events slightly. The Ministry moved the trial and a letter was sent by owl to Mr Weasley at impossibly short notice so that there would be plausible deniability that they'd tried to get hold of him.

At the same time it would appear that a member of the Wizengamot (or A.N. Other MoM official) who was loyal to Dumbledore contacted Perkins in order to try to get hold of Mr Weasley. This was separate to the owl/s and was probably an unauthorised action.


As to the identity of the mole, my money is on Madam Bones. In addition to showing an obvious desire to give Harry a fair hearing she was the first to call for a vote to acquit him and personally lead the faction that voted in his favour. Although she wasn't a fully paid-up member of the Order of the Phoenix, she was definitely part of the anti-Voldemort tendency and connected to the Order through her deceased brother, a former member.

  • 1
    Good points. Although the movie prop makes me wonder why they would send an owl to Mr Weasley to the Burrow when he was living in Grimmauld Place at the time. Hardly plausible deniability if they send the owl to the wrong place! Presumably we can put it down to a movie cock-up, though. – The Dark Lord Feb 27 '17 at 18:11
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    @TheDarkLord - Worthy of its own question, but I'd guess that the owl was intentionally sent to the Weasley's formal address. – Valorum Feb 27 '17 at 18:16
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    Perhaps it's also worth noting that, even if Amelia Bones wasn't in the Order herself, her deceased brother was in it during the First Wizarding War. – The Dark Lord Feb 27 '17 at 19:13
  • @TheDarkLord - Good point. Added – Valorum Feb 28 '17 at 10:03
3

Forgive me, but surely the answer is in the question?

'Oh Arthur!' he said desperately, without looking at Harry. 'Thank goodness, I didn't know what to do for the best, whether to wait here for you or not, I've just sent an owl to your home but you've obviously missed it - an urgent message came ten minutes ago -'

Perkins is Arthur's colleague in the Ministry, they share an office. Clearly the message was sent to The Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office, where Perkins was, before Mr Weasley arrived with Harry, in addition to the owl being sent to Harry. I don't think there's any need to assume leaks or moles.

In fact, I disagree with you about the intention behind changing the location. I think the intention was to wrong-foot Dumbledore so that Harry would have to go in alone, rather than to cause Harry to miss it altogether. After all, when Arthur arrives many of the employees are still there and bustling around and Perkins was clearly in before Arthur and Harry, so the Ministry was clearly up and running, it's not like they've moved the hearing unreasonably early, they moved it from 09:00 to 08:00.

Now that may seem like a wholly unreasonable thing to do, to move it forward an hour at short notice, but it should be remembered that Harry and Arthur left Grimmauld Place early in order to take Muggle public transport and make a good impression. I don't think there's anything to indicate that they sent the letter too late for a wizard - with their floo powder and their Knight bus and so on - to turn up on time, merely that Harry and Arthur missed it for reasons the Ministry wouldn't necessarily have been anticipating.

Instead, I think what happened is that a letter was sent to Harry's place of residence - presumably Privet Drive - but of course Harry wasn't there, he was at Grimmauld Place, a secret hideout that the Ministry wouldn't know about. So it's likely that that was why he never received the letter. But the Ministry wouldn't have known anything about that. That is why I think messages seemed to arrive unreasonably late, rather than because the Ministry had actually waited until impossibly late to inform Harry.

Then Harry arrives at the Ministry with Mr Weasley and then Harry and Arthur took their time getting up to the office, believing they had an hour to spare, and Arthur paused to talk to Kingsley and so on. Now, according to Perkins, the message arrived ten minutes earlier. According to him it's been moved to 08:00 and according to Arthur, when he gets the message, they should have been there 5 minutes ago, meaning that the message arrived at the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts office 5 minutes before the hearing was due to the start. What I think happened is that, with five minutes to go, and Harry still not there, a second message was sent to the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office, perhaps using one of the paper aeroplane memos. The Ministry would have known that Arthur was accompanying Harry, because he told them as much using the phone in the visitor's entrance (the disused phone box).

But call me a Ministry apologist if you will ... :P

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    @TheDarkLord No precisely the opposite. I'm saying an owl was sent presumably to Private Drive. And then once Harry and Arthur have turned up and signed in with the phone box, a message (perhaps one of the paper aeroplane memos) was sent to the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts office, where Perkins was, exactly as he says it, and he got all in a dither and sent a second owl (presumably to the Burrow), and while he was doing that, Harry and Arthur arrived at the office – Au101 Feb 27 '17 at 20:15
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    @Au101 - Your answer seems to assume that the Ministry wanted to get hold of Mr. Weasley whereas in reality they didn't. The reason they moved the trial and sent an owl was so that he wouldn't get the message. – Valorum Feb 28 '17 at 10:04
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    @Au101 - If he was absent, he would at the very least have been found in contempt. I presume the wizarding world still allows trials to be conducted in absentia but that's probably worth a question of its own – Valorum Feb 28 '17 at 14:30
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    You might find this interesting; What was the goal/s of changing the venue and time of Harry's trial?. – Valorum Feb 28 '17 at 15:11
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    You must be one of those cruel morning people if you think moving something from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. is reasonable/not extreme. – Martha Dec 12 '18 at 20:02
2

In the quote cited in the question Perkins says how he knows: "an urgent message came ten minutes ago". The question then becomes, who sent the urgent message? The two existing answers both argue that someone in the Ministry sent it. I think that is unlikely. Why would the Ministry send an urgent message to the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts office? It's not Arthur Weasley's hearing; it's Harry Potter's hearing. It's not the Ministry's concern who happened to be Harry's traveling companion for his journey to the Ministry.

To me it sounds like the Ministry sent an owl to Harry (presumably at Grimmauld Place) and the owl arrived after Harry and Mr. Weasley left. Someone there probably saw the owl, and, realizing that Harry and Mr. Weasley had not seen the owl, sent a message to the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office where Mr. Weasley would be expected to be hanging out. Apparently, the message arrived at the office a few minutes before Harry and Mr. Weasley got there, so Perkins received the message. Perkins presumably was unaware of the Order of the Phoenix headquarters so he sent his owl to the Burrow, assuming that that's where Mr. Weasley would be.

Now, we can probably assume that it was not Mrs. Weasley who sent the urgent message, because it would be strange for Perkins to forward the message to the Burrow, which in his mind would be right where the message came from. The message was probably sent by someone else in the Order, or even by Dumbledore based on the message that he received from the Ministry (as mentioned by Fudge).

Thus, it is still perfectly possible that the Ministry was trying to "get Harry to miss his trial", and Perkins was not privy to the information from the Ministry side — he just happened to see the message sent to Mr. Weasley from outside the Ministry because he was the only one in the office at the time.

  • Good answer. By the way, I'm not 100% sure that the Ministry did ever send Dumbledore an owl. I think they may have just shut Dumbledore out and then when he unexpectedly turned up Fudge awkwardly tried to make out that they'd sent an owl. – The Dark Lord Dec 13 '18 at 12:36
  • @TheDarkLord That’s certainly a possibility. – Alex Dec 13 '18 at 14:22
0

It is possible that the Ministry tasked Perkins to send the owl telling about the earlier time. Then, when Harry is told "you were sent an owl this morning," it is the same owl Perkins said he sent. That would make it obvious to why Perkins knew about the change of time, seeing as he sent the message.

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    This is a possibility. But why would Perkins be put in charge of Wizengamot communications? He works in the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts office, after all. – The Dark Lord Dec 22 '18 at 20:58
  • It's also possible that Perkins is sleeping with the messenger and the messenger talks in her sleep. Heck, anything's possible. For me though, the question is whether it's likely that Perkins would have been dealing with the lowly business of posting a letter. – Valorum Dec 22 '18 at 21:14

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