- "However, the departing delivery owl had barely cleared the top of the milk jug when Hermione let out a huge gasp and flattened the newspaper to reveal a large photograph of Dolores Umbridge, smiling widely and blinking slowly at them from beneath the headline."
MINISTRY SEEKS EDUCATIONAL REFORM was an article published in the Daily Prophet on 9 September, 1993. It reported the creation of the post of High Inquisitor of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry by the Ministry of Magic, under the terms of the recently-enacted Educational Decree Number Twenty-Three, as well as the appointment of Dolores Umbridge to the post. It additionally reported the resignation of Wizengamot members, Griselda Marchbanks and Tiberius Ogden, in protest for this move that was yet another way of discrediting Headmaster Albus Dumbledore. Madam Marchbanks was subsequently, in this very same article, accused of having links to subversive goblin groups.
Lucius Malfoy, speaking from Malfoy Manor, in Wiltshire, provided a quote expressing his relief that the Ministry was putting an eye on Dumbledore, as the Headmaster had made many "eccentric decisions" in the last few years: the appointment of Remus Lupin (a werewolf), Rubeus Hagrid (a half-giant) and delusional ex-Auror, Alastor Moody as teachers.
In a letter to his brother Ron, posted the day before this article was printed, Percy Weasley (who was, at the time, in the post of Junior Assistant to the Minister for Magic) told Ron that "Dumbledore may not be in charge at Hogwarts much longer" and that "if you look at the Daily Prophet tomorrow you will get a good idea of the way the wind is blowing". Next morning, Harry, Ron and Hermione were expecting to have to comb their issue of the Daily Prophet carefully to find the article Percy had mentioned in his letter, but it was front-page news, accompanied by a large picture of a smiling Umbridge.
In a surprise move last night the Ministry of Magic passed new legislation giving itself an unprecedented level of control at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
"The Minister for Magic has been growing uneasy about goings-on at Hogwarts for some time" said Junior Assistant to the Minister for Magic Percy Weasley. "He is now responding to concerns voiced by anxious parents, who feel the school may be moving in a direction they do not approve."
This is not the first time in recent weeks Fudge has used new laws to effect improvements at the wizarding school. As recently as 30 August, Educational Decree Number Twenty-Two was passed, to ensure that, in the event of the current Headmaster being unable to provide a candidate for a teaching post, the Ministry should select an appropriate person.
"That's how Dolores Umbridge came to be appointed to the teaching staff at Hogwarts," said Weasley last night. "Dumbledore couldn't find anyone, so the Minister put in Umbridge and of course, she's been an immediate success, totally revolutionising the teaching of Defence Against the Dark Arts and providing the Minister with on-the-ground feedback about what's really happening at Hogwarts."
It is this last function that the Ministry has now formalised with the passing of Educational Decree Number Twenty-Three, which creates the new position of Hogwarts High Inquisitor.
"This is an exciting new phase in the Minister's plan to get to grips with what some are calling the falling standards at Hogwarts," said Weasley. "The Inquisitor will have powers to inspect her fellow educators and make sure that they are coming up to scratch. Professor Umbridge has been offered this position in addition to her own teaching post, and we are delighted to say that she has accepted."
The Ministry's new moves have received enthusiastic support from parents of students at Hogwarts.
"I feel much easier in my mind now that I know that Dumbledore is being subjected to fair and objective evaluation," said Lucius Malfoy, 41, speaking from his Wiltshire mansion last night. "Many of us with our children's best interests at heart have been concerned about some of Dumbledore's eccentric decisions in the last few years and will be glad to know that the Ministry is keeping an eye on the situation." Among those 'eccentric decisions' are undoubtedly the controversial staff appointments previously described in this newspaper, which have included the hiring of werewolf Remus Lupin, half-giant Rubeus Hagrid and delusional ex-Auror, 'Mad-Eye' Moody.
Rumours abound, of course, that Albus Dumbledore, once Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards and Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, is not longer up to the task of managing the prestigious school of Hogwarts.
"I think the appointment of the Inquisitor is a first step toward ensuring that Hogwarts has a headmaster in whom we can all repose confidence," said a Ministry insider last night.
Wizengamot elders Griselda Marchbanks and Tiberius Ogden have resigned in protest at the introduction of the post of Inquisitor to Hogwarts.
"Hogwarts is a school, not an outpost of Cornelius Fudge's office", said Madam Marchbanks. "This is a further disgusting attempt to discredit Albus Dumbledore."
(For a full account of Madam Marchbanks' alleged links to subversive goblin groups, turn to page 17).
Behind the scenes
- In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the subheading for this article is "A NEW ERA DAWNS AT HOGWARTS", instead of "DOLORES UMBRIDGE APPOINTED FIRST EVER HIGH INQUISITOR" as in the book. Also, the lead paragraph reads: "With public confidence in Albus Dumbledore quickly dwindling, the Ministry of Magic has passed legislation giving itself an unprecedented level of control at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry."
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Mundungus Fletcher identifies Umbridge by seeing her photo printed in a copy of this article that was sitting atop a stack of old newspapers he knocked over while trying to escape from Harry, Ron, and Hermione.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1