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JK Rowling leak lawsuit settled as firm makes donation to charity

July 31, 2013 at 1:34 PM ET

A British law firm has settled a lawsuit filed by J.K. Rowling over leaking news that the Harry Potter author had penned a crime novel written under a pseudonym.
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A British law firm has settled a lawsuit filed by J.K. Rowling over leaking news that the Harry Potter author had penned a crime novel written under a pseudonym.

The law firm involved in leaking the pseudonym J.K. Rowling used to write a crime novel has settled a lawsuit filed by the author. The firm agreed to make a "substantial" charitable donation and pay for all legal costs related to the dust-up.

The Harry Potter author had sued a partner of the British law firm, Russells Solicitors, and a friend to whom he had revealed Rowling’s secret pen name. The friend then leaked the news to a newspaper that exposed Rowling as the author of “The Cuckoo’s Calling,” a thriller supposedly written by a former soldier named Robert Galbraith.

A young woman looks at a computer screen showing the cover of "The Cuckoo's Calling," written by J.K. Rowling under the penname, Robert Galbraith.
MAURIZIO GAMBARINI / AFP - Getty Images
A young woman looks at a computer screen showing the cover of "The Cuckoo's Calling," written by J.K. Rowling under the pen name Robert Galbraith.

Rowling was “angry and distressed that her confidences had been betrayed,” according to a statement her attorney filed Wednesday in Britain’s High Court. “This was very much aggravated by repeated speculation that the leak had, in fact, been a carefully coordinated publicity stunt by her, her agent and her publishers to increase sales.”

The statement also said that Russells Solicitors agreed to pay Rowling’s legal costs and make a “substantial donation” to Soldiers’ Charity, which helps former military personnel and their families. Russells also issued an apology on behalf of its partner, Chris Gossage, and his friend, Judith Callegari, both of whom were named in Rowling’s lawsuit.

Russells previously had issued an apology after revealing earlier in July that Gossage was responsible for the leak.

Although “The Cuckoo’s Calling” received positive reviews, it only sold a few hundred copies following its April 30 release. The book then skyrocketed to No. 1 on sales list for Amazon and Barnes and Noble after word spread that it was actually written by Rowling. That prompted the speculation that her publisher had actually leaked the news to increase sales.

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