Lawyer behind J K Rowling 'Galbraith' leak fined

Lawyer behind J K Rowling 'Galbraith' leak fined

The solicitor responsible for leaking the fact that J K Rowling was the writer behind the pseudonym Robert Galbraith has been fined £1,000 for breaching confidentiality rules.

Rowling published crime novel The Cuckoo's Calling (Sphere) as Galbraith in April.

Her real identity remained a closely guarded secret until Christopher Gossage, a partner at London law firm Russells Solicitors, revealed it to a friend of his wife's, Judith Callegari.

Callegari tweeted as @judecallegari to writer India Knight, alerting her to Galbraith's identity. The tweets were later deleted, but The Sunday Times revealed Galbraith's true identity in a piece on July 14th.

In a ruling issued on November 26th and made public yesterday (December 30th) the Solicitors Regulation Authority said it had fined Gossage £1,000 and also issued him with a written rebuke.

The SRA said the reasons for its decision were because "by disclosing confidential information about a client to a third party Mr Gossage has breached Principles 4 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011 and failed to achieve outcome 4.1 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011". 

Principle 4 of the SRA rules is to "act in the best interests of each client" while Principle 6 states that members should "behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in you and in the provision of legal services".

Outcome 4.1 of the SRA Code of Conduct states that solicitors should "keep the affairs of clients confidential unless disclosure is required or permitted by law or the client consents".

Russells apologised "unreservedly" for the leak in July, while Rowling said in a statement that she was "disappointed". She continued: "I had assumed that I could expect total confidentiality from Russells, a reputable professional firm and I feel very angry that my trust turned out to be misplaced."

The author dropped legal action against Russells after the firm agreed to make a "substantial" donation to The Army Benevolent Fund.