It sounds like a Mel Brooks joke, but it's true — a British law firm has admitted that it was responsible for outing JK Rowling as the secret author of a detective novel, after a partner of the firm told his wife's best friend.

Chris Gossage, an entertainment lawyer and partner at the law firm Russells, was apparently showing off when he told his wife's best friend in a "private conversation" that Rowling had been writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, a "married ex-military man" credited as the author of The Cuckoo's Calling.

“We, Russells Solicitors, apologise unreservedly for the disclosure caused by one of our partners, Chris Gossage, in revealing to his wife’s best friend, Judith Callegari, during a private conversation that the true identity of Robert Galbraith was in fact JK Rowling,” the firm said in a statement this week.

After Callegari learned the news from Gossage, she then allegedly tweeted the information to a Sunday Times of London reporter. Callegari, a suburban mother of two, has since deleted her Twitter account (@JudeCallegari), as well as her Facebook. She is apparently married to a partner at the law firm K&L Gates, which represents AOL, Starbucks, Microsoft, and Goldman Sachs.

Once the Sunday Times had the tip, they contacted an Oxford professor who analyzed the text of The Cuckoo's Calling and concluded that it was likely penned by the Harry Potter author.

Rowling released a statement saying that, “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 prior to Sunday night could have found out something that many of my oldest friends did not know... 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.”

On the bright side, the leak did lead to massive sales — before the Sunday Times broke the news, The Cuckoo's Calling had sold only 1,500 copies; afterwards, it shot to the top of Amazon's best seller list, and a reprint of 300,000 copies has been ordered.

[via, image via AP]