Note: This article is from the Guardian.
Travel plans of Princess Beatrice – the fifth in line to the throne – appear to have been supplied by a Virgin Atlantic employee to a firm of paparazzi photographers, according to a fresh batch of almost 70 celebrity flight details seen by the Guardian.
Flight reservations made on behalf of the young royal for March 2011 – a one-way journey from London Heathrow to Newark airport, near New York – appear in emails allegedly sent by a Virgin Atlantic employee to the London-based paparazzi firm Big Pictures.
The apparent breach of security affecting the daughter of Andrew, the Duke of York, will increase pressure on Virgin Atlantic to get to the bottom of how such sensitive emails ended up in the hands of a picture agency. On Thursday the Virgin Atlantic employee who appears to be behind the leaks of celebrity passenger information resigned.
The revelation came as it emerged that private travel plans of a fresh batch of celebrities – including singer Rihanna and what were described as “Madonna’s kids” – appear to have been sent by the airline employee to an executive at Big Pictures.
Virgin Atlantic said it was taking the apparent leak “extremely seriously” and has launched an internal investigation, but refused to comment on the potential breach of the princess’s security. The disclosure is particularly embarrassing for Sir Richard Branson’s airline, which has battled with BA to become known as the nation’s flag-carrier.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the alleged leak of Princess Beatrice’s private travel details. The Information Commissioner’s Office said it would examine a possible breach of the Data Protection Act.
The Leveson inquiry into press standards was urged to investigate the alleged disclosure of private information and recall Darryn Lyons, the founder of Big Pictures, who gave evidence to the inquiry via video link from Australia in February.
Martin Moore, Media Standards Trust director and co-founder of the Hacked Off campaign, said: “Darryn Lyons should be called back and asked to respond to these allegations, which go against his earlier testimony. Certainly Mr Lyons needs to explain apparent discrepancies in his testimony and answer the allegations that have been made, especially if there are other airlines and organisations which are also alleged to be illegally selling on private information.”
Moore said the revelations indicate the illicit trade of private data by media companies, laid bare by the information commissioner’s office in 2006, continued as a “significant trade”.
Big Pictures declined to comment. Richard Branson declined to comment while the Virgin Atlantic investigation is continuing.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010