New emails suggest Virgin insider leaked flight details of more than 60 celebs to Big Pictures - Press Gazette

New emails suggest Virgin insider leaked flight details of more than 60 celebs to Big Pictures

Press Gazette has seen further emails which suggest a Virgin Atlantic insider has passed on the flight details of more than 60 celebrities to news agency Big Pictures.

Virgin Atlantic has declined to comment further pending the outcome of an internal inquiry. Other flight details in the emails seen by Press Gazette include those of Madonna and her children, the singer Rihanna and dozens of other actors and sports stars.

The new evidence has emerged after we reported yesterday how Virgin launched an internal investigation after being shown evidence which appeared to indicate that an employee at the airline had handed over private information about celebrities' flights to Big Pictures in 2010.

They included footballers Ashley Cole and Jermain Defoe, actresses Sienna Miller, Scarlett Johansson and Gwyneth Paltrow, and pop stars Nicole Scherzinger, Robbie Williams and Cheryl Cole.

The email from the Big Pictures executive said they were 'just trying to sort you out some money with accounts". The Guardian reported on Thursday evening that a member of staff at Virgin Atlantic had resigned in the wake of these allegations.

The latest cache of emails appear to show more than 60 celebrites' details were passed on and that yesterday's allegations were not isolated.

Yesterday afternoon Virgin suggested the email chain between the Virgin insider and a senior executive at Big Pictures could be unreliable and that the employee suspected of the leaks denied the allegations, claiming she was the victim of identity theft.

It also pointed out that the emails were 21 months old – but the latest evidence shows emails were apparently being exchanged as late as March 2011, though it is not known whether they all came from the same source.

Here are some extracts from the latest emails seen by Press Gazette and apparently sent to Big Pictures by a Virgin insider:

  • Princess Beatrice: VS17 14Mar Leaves Heathrow T3 at 19.10 and arrives Newark at 23.25 local
  • Charlize Theron: VS24 13Mar Leaves LA at 22,15 and arrives Heathrow at 15.55 next day; VS7 10May Leaves Heathrow T3 at 11.30 and arrives LA at 14.50 local
  • Coleen Rooney: VS29 13Mar Leaves Gatwick South at 10.30 and arrives Barbados at 15.10 local; VS30 27Mar Leaves Barbados at 16.45 and arrives Gatwick at 05.50 next day
  • Matt Lucas: VS7 15Mar Leaves Heathrow T3 at 11.25 and arrives LA at 15.55 local; VS8 04May Leaves LA at 17.35 and arrives Heathrow at 12.05 next day
  • Russell Brand: VS7 17Mar Leaves Heathrow T3 at 11.25 and arrives LA at 15.55 local
  • Rihanna: VS45 12Nov Leaves Heathrow T3 at 12.00 and arrives JFK at 15.05 local
  • Madonna's kids: VS45 2Sep Leaves Heathrow T3 at 14.00 and arrives JFK at 16.40 local

The entry for Isla Fisher and Sacha Baron-Cohen reads: "VS1: '29Nov Leaves Heathrow T3 at 1600 and arrives Newark at 1905 local; VS18 04Dec Leaves Newark at 0800 and arrives Heathrow at 2000 same day. They're in economy !!!!!"


Others included are Take That's Howard Donald and Jason Orange, Top Gear presenters James May and Jeremy Clarkson, and comedians Graham Norton, Rob Brydon and Jonathan Ross.

Yesterday Virgin issued a statement saying: "The allegations that have been raised are extremely serious and we have launched an immediate investigation.

"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.

"It is too early to draw conclusions on this matter but of course we would deeply regret any concern that these allegations may cause the individuals involved."

A spokesperson for one of the alleged victims, Jermain Defoe, told Press Gazette: 'This is a serious breach of privacy, we will be consulting with our lawyers and investigating the matter further."

Other celebrities whose names are featured in the emails include Denise Van Outen, Michael McIntyre, Lennox Lewis, Richard and Judy, Rupert Grint, Daniel Radcliffe, Joan Collins, Neve Campbell, Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes.

Big Pictures, which describes itself as the 'the world's biggest and best celebrity picture agency", was launched in 1992 by Darryn Lyons, also known as 'Mr Paparazzi".

Its website says it has a worldwide staff of 75 representing over 1,000 photographers, supplying pictures to 40 countries.

The company has been approached for comment several times over the past 48 hours but had not responded at the time of publication.

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