Lawyer fined for outing JK Rowling as author of crime novel

Updated: Jan 01, 2014, 19:11 PM IST

London: The lawyer who leaked that Harry Potter creator JK Rowling was the author of a crime novel penned under a pseudonym has been slapped with a 1,000 pounds fine and a written rebuke for breaking confidentiality rules.

`The Cuckoo`s Calling` was published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith but later it emerged that Rowling was the author of the popular novel.

Rowling, 48, was left "dismayed and distressed" after Christopher Gossage leaked her name as the author of her novel.

Last July, Rowling brought legal proceedings against Gossage, a partner at Russells Solicitors in London, and his friend Judith Callegari over the leak. In July, she accepted a substantial donation to charity from the law firm.

Now, Gossage has been fined and issued a written rebuke by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

The decision published on the website of SRA, reads, "The SRA decided to issue Mr Christopher Gossage with a written rebuke and ordered him to pay a financial penalty of 1000 pounds."

The SRA said he had breached their code of conduct by disclosing confidential information about a client to a third party.

The Cuckoo`s Calling, about a war veteran turned private investigator called Cormoran Strike, had sold 1,500 copies before it was leaked that Rowling was its author. Within hours, the novel rose more than 5,000 places to top Amazon`s sales list.

Rowling`s identity had been disclosed by Gossage to his wife`s best friend, Callegari, during a "private conversation" over dinner. Callegari, in turn disclosed her identity it in a Twitter exchange with a journalist.

Russells apologised and said the disclosure was made "in confidence to someone he trusted implicitly".

A clue that Rowling was behind the novel was that she and "Galbraith" shared an agent and editor.

The book was published by Sphere, part of the Little, Brown Book Group, which published her foray into writing novels for adults, `The Casual Vacancy`.