A London man described as a “smart-arse” by his girlfriend came up with a very cryptic way of proposing marriage – by using the Times crossword.

Matthew Dick, a 38-year-old lawyer, arranged for the newspaper’s crossword to contain hidden messages to his girlfriend of two-and-a-half years, Delyth Hughes, on her birthday.

The clues included "Pretty Welsh girl widely thought not to be all there" with the six-letter answer Delyth and "'Will you marry me', say, that's forward also rude!", to which the eight-letter answer was proposal.

Another clue read "Draw up a set of biblical books, ending in Matthew", while other answers to clues included "birthday" and "wishes".

Mr Dick, a crossword enthusiast, told the Times: "I underlined 'Matthew' in the bottom corner and underlined 'Will you marry me' in the clue and reached into my pocket to reveal the ring.

"She looked so surprised and didn't say anything for about 30 seconds, before then saying 'No', which she thought was hilarious. But she did then say 'Yes' and I had to tell her this was the real Times crossword, not something I had printed out myself."

Marketing executive Ms Hughes, 39, said: "I was dumbfounded that he'd gone to such lengths. It was also bloody typical as he's a smart-arse at the best of times. I was getting a bit teary and emotional, even if I did joke that I wouldn't marry him."

The Times' crossword editor Richard Rogan, who was contacted by Mr Dick on Twitter, said he believed it was the first time the paper had included a proposal in the puzzle, adding: "We won't be doing it again."