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Virgin Atlantic employee quits over alleged emails to paparazzi

The employee allegedly told photographers when celebrities were booked onto flights, so that they could take photos.

Richard Branson's airline is popular with high-profile figures - but they may be less likely to fly Virgin in future.
Richard Branson's airline is popular with high-profile figures - but they may be less likely to fly Virgin in future.
Image: ALFRED DE MONTESQUIOU/AP

A SENIOR EMPLOYEE at the Virgin Atlantic airline is reported to have resigned over allegations that she routinely gave travel details for celebrities to a photography agency.

The employee, who the Guardian reports as having supervised ‘upper class’ passengers on the airline, told paparazzi agency Big Pictures about the flights on which at least eight high-profile figures, including members of Britain’s Royal family, were booked to travel.

In an email the paper claims to have seen, the employee listed flights on which the likes of Robbie Williams, Nicole Scherzinger, Gwynteth Paltrow and Ashley and Cheryl Cole were travelling.

It adds that the details appeared to tally with pictures published of the figures; Ashley Cole was pictured at an airport at one of the dates included in the email, while another footballer Jermaine Defoe was working with a charity in the Caribbean between the dates listed for him.

The Press Gazette followed up by saying it had seen emails with details for another 60 celebrities including Sienna Miller, Rihanna, Coleen Rooney, the Queen’s granddaughter Princess Beatrice and Russell Brand.

Its emails also indicated the regular nature of the contact between the airline employee and the agency, with the agency responding: “Just trying to sort you out some money with accounts.”

Another email listing travel plans for comedian and satirist Sacha Baron-Cohen and his wife, actress Isla Fisher, comes with the comment, “They’re in economy!!!”.

Virgin told The Independent that the allegations were “extremely serious” and that it was launching an immediate investigation into the affair. That paper said solicitors for Sienna Miller and Ashley Cole were ‘taking legal instructions’ on how to respond.

The move will be embarrassing for the airline, which is popular with high-profile passengers, and whose founder Richard Branson is personally friendly with many of its more illustrious clients.

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Gavan Reilly

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