Worker resigns over celebrity flight leaks

Apr 07, 2012, 07:48 IST | Agencies

Virgin Atlantic employee quits after allegations of feeding flight details for up to 70 people to paparazzi, including those of Gwyneth Paltrow and Scarlett Johansson

A senior member of staff at Virgin Atlantic has resigned after allegations that they leaked the flight details of celebrities to a paparazzi agency.

Hot target: Scarlett Johansson was one of the few actresses targeted through the leak

It is claimed that the employee passed information on stars including Sienna Miller, Robbie Williams and Scarlett Johansson to London-based agency Big Pictures.

Virgin Atlantic said they were taking the matter ‘extremely seriously’ and that an inquiry had been launched. A leaked e-mail from the employee to the agency, says ‘Got a few more for you!’ before providing flight information for a number of celebrities.

The other celebrities said to be involved were footballers Jermain Defoe and Ashley Cole, his ex-wife Cheryl Cole, singer Nicole Scherzinger and actress Gwyneth Paltrow.

The Virgin Atlantic staff member was allegedly told in an e-mail from Big Pictures that the agency was ‘trying to sort you out some money with accounts’.

“The allegations that have been raised are extremely serious and we have launched an immediate investigation,” a spokeswoman for the airline said.

“The security of customer information is our highest priority and we have robust processes in place to ensure that passenger information is protected. The incident that has been alleged concerns eight customers’ flights booked in 2010 and we are in contact with all of those people.”

A source at the airline said it was scanning e-mail archives and investigating who could access its booking system. Virgin Atlantic was attempting to contact the celebrities involved. Sources at the airline indicated that other travel firms may have had partial access to its bookings system.

The accused employee, who resigned yesterday, is understood to deny the allegations. A spokeswoman for Defoe said, “This is a serious breach of privacy. We’ll be consulting with our lawyers and investigating the matter further.”

A spokeswoman for Miller, who obtained an injunction against the paparazzi in 2008, said she had no comment to make. Big Pictures, which launched in 1992, claims to be the world’s largest celebrity picture agency, supplying pictures to 40 countries.

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