Russells partner agrees to pay damages to JK Rowling over confidentiality breach

JK Rowling has accepted “substantial damages” from media firm Russells following her unmasking as the unknown author of The Cuckoo’s Calling, the High Court heard today.

court of appeal

JK Rowling launched a case against Russells partner Christopher Gossage and Judith Callegari after it emerged that the lawyer had told Callegari, his wife’s best friend, that JK Rowling had penned the book under a pseudonym (19 July 2013).

Long time advisors Schillings acted for JK Rowling. Senior partner Keith Schilling led the team alongside partner Jenny Afia, associate Ben Hobbs and solicitor Joelle Rich, counsel was not instructed.

Clyde & Co solicitor Matthew Coppin instructed One Brick Court barrister Hannah Ready for Gossage, while Callegari was supported by Littleton pupil barrister Mark Humphreys. Humphreys will become a member of Littleton Chambers on 1 October. The instructing firm for Callegari was Forbes Anderson Free.

While Gossage and Callegari were named as defendants in the case it is understood that Russells has agreed to pay the settlement.

The court heard today how JK Rowling was “angry and distressed” that her confidences had been betrayed by the partner. A statement read out in court said: “The claimant has been left dismayed and distressed by such a fundamental betrayal of trust. As a reflection of their regret for breach of the claimant’s confidence including frustrating the claimant’s ability to continue to write anonymously under the name Robert Galbraith, the defendants are here today to apologise publicly to the claimant.”

The pair have agreed to pay ”substantial damages” to the author, which will be donated to The Soldier’s Charity and to reimburse the claimant’s costs.

The author has also decided to give net royalties from book sales of The Cuckoo’s Calling to The Soldiers’ Charity for a period of three years, dating from the 14th July 2013 (the day that Robert Galbraith’s identity was made known).

Rowling said in a statement today: “This donation is being made to The Soldiers’ Charity partly as a thank you to the army people who helped me with research, but also because writing a hero who is a veteran has given me an even greater appreciation and understanding of exactly how much this charity does for ex-servicemen and their families, and how much that support is needed.

“I always intended to give The Soldiers’ Charity a donation out of Robert’s royalties but I had not anticipated him making the bestseller list a mere three months after publication (indeed, I had not counted on him ever being there!).”

Rowling’s detective novel had received critical recognition but had not sold in large numbers until the week of 14 July, when publishers Little Brown had to issue a reprint after sales rose by 415,000 per cent.