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Man who leaked J.K. Rowling’s pseudonym fined £1,000

Author J.K. Rowling poses for a portrait on Oct. 16, 2012.

CARLO ALLEGRI/REUTERS

The British lawyer who unmasked J.K. Rowling as the author of a crime novel written under a pseudonym has been disciplined.

Chris Gossage, who told his wife's best friend that Ms. Rowling wrote The Cuckoo's Calling, has been issued a written rebuke and fined £1,000 ($1,760 Canadian) by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Mr. Gossage, a partner at the London entertainment law firm that represented the best-selling author, did not act in the best interest of his client and did not behave in a way that maintains public trust, the regulatory body said in a decision made public on Monday.

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The discovery that the famous writer of the Harry Potter novels had penned The Cuckoo's Calling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith came in July after the Sunday Times newspaper received anonymous tweets. Ms. Rowling admitted she had written the novel, sending sales soaring.

The anonymous Twitter user was revealed to be Judith Callegari, the best friend of Mr. Gossage's wife.

At the time, Ms. Rowling expressed anger at the leak by Russells Solicitors.

"A tiny number of people knew my pseudonym and it has not been pleasant to wonder for days how a woman whom I had never heard of … could have found out something that many of my oldest friends did not know," she said in a statement. "To say that I am disappointed is an understatement. 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."

Russells issued a statement of apology and paid an undisclosed sum of money, which Ms. Rowling donated to charity.

"Whilst accepting his own culpability, the disclosure was made in confidence to someone [Mr. Gossage] trusted implicitly. On becoming aware of the circumstances, we immediately notified J.K. Rowling's agent," the firm said in a statement in July. "We can confirm that this leak was not part of any marketing plan and that neither J.K. Rowling, her agent nor publishers were in any way involved."

With a report from Reuters

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