Worker tipped paparazzi, airline says

LONDON - A Virgin Atlantic employee has resigned following allegations she routinely fed information about the company’s celebrity clientele to a paparazzi agency, the airline said Friday.

Virgin said that the employee, a junior member of the team tasked with looking after high-profile clients, quit Thursday ahead of reports published in the Guardian and the Press Gazette alleging that she had passed more than 60 celebrities’ booking information on to the Big Pictures photo agency.

Among those allegedly targeted: Britain’s Princess Beatrice; singers Madonna and Rihanna; actors Charlize Theron, Kate Winslet, Daniel Radcliffe, and Sienna Miller; comedians Sacha Baron Cohen and Russell Brand; and a slew of United Kingdom celebrities and sports figures.


Both the Guardian and the Press Gazette cited messages allegedly sent by the employee to someone at Big Pictures Ltd. as the basis for their stories.

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The Associated Press had no immediate way of verifying the authenticity of the messages, but the Guardian said it had carried out checks confirming that at least some of the celebrities had traveled to the destinations mentioned in the e-mails.

Calls and e-mails to representatives of around a dozen of the celebrities mentioned went unreturned Friday. A representative for Princess Beatrice declined to comment, while Kate Winslet’s publicist, Heidi Slan, said the star was not reachable.

In a statement, Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. called the allegations “extremely serious’’ and said it had launched an investigation. The airline confirmed that high-profile clients were involved but declined to comment on the British newspapers’ figures.