I could not believe my eyes on Sunday. The News of the World ran the diaries of Kate McCann, the mother of missing Madeleine. Why, I wondered, would the McCanns suddenly agree to a red-top publishing such an intimate document? And surely they could not have sold the rights?
Then I noticed the odd phrasing in the standfirst, which explained (partially at least) their provenance, and which also implied that Kate McCann had not sanctioned publication. It said that the diaries "were passed to us by a reporter in Portugal."
On the other hand, given that if the diaries were real ? and they read as if they were ? the NoW's lawyers would certainly know they faced copyright problems if the editor dared to run them. They must have felt confident, however, because they were being featured on the paper's website as well.
We have previously heard very little about these diaries, thought to be in the hands of Portuguese prosecutors. A year ago the Daily Mail ran a tasteless story about them being liable to fetch 1 million from publishers. The Sun did mention a leak in late July this year. But nothing much had emerged.
There were follow-ups to the NoW's scoop, including this one in the Daily Telegraph. Google is showing more than 3,000 stories about the diaries in various publications around the world.
I forgot about the matter until today someone urged me to try the link to the News of the World's website once again. The diaries had been taken down (though, of course, the link from Google remains in place). Then she revealed that lawyers were now "heavily involved."
No, I thought, surely the NoW's accident prone editor Colin Myler had not cocked things up again? He could not have run the diaries without obtaining permission from Kate McCann, could he?
My source, under no illusion about Myler's supposed abilities, is adamant that the News of the World is in very hot water indeed. "I understand Gerry and Kate are very upset," she said. "Even though the paper tried to dress it all up as sympathetic, it was obviously a grotesque intrusion into their privacy."
And then there's the copyright problem too. After the previous court settlements in favour of the McCanns, this is one giant - if rather obvious - editorial mistake.