Page last updated at 15:20 GMT, Friday, 20 February 2009

Watchdog host in air miles probe

Julia Bradbury
Julia Bradbury has denied any wrongdoing

BBC presenter Julia Bradbury has taken time off while police investigate "suspicious activity" on her Virgin Atlantic loyalty point account.

The Watchdog host said she had "done nothing wrong" but had requested leave until the matter had been resolved.

The airline said it had closed a number of its frequent flyer accounts and passed the matter to the police.

Officers are looking at "suspicious activity relating to earning miles and tier points".

Ms Bradbury has presented Watchdog since 2005 and has worked on a number of other BBC programmes including Countryfile and Accidental Heroes.

I have done nothing wrong and will of course willingly cooperate with any enquiries
Julia Bradbury

A national newspaper has claimed air miles were added to her account on several occasions instead of being deducted.

The value of the flights was said to be at least 20,000.

In a statement Ms Bradbury said: "I am very concerned about these allegations.

"Although I have not been contacted by the police I understand that my Virgin Atlantic account details have been passed over to the authorities as part of an internal fraud investigation at the airline regarding frequent flyer miles.

"I understand that my name appears on a list that includes several Virgin passengers with discrepancies in their frequent flyer statements.

She added: "I have done nothing wrong and will of course willingly cooperate with any enquiries.

"I have asked the BBC to take time off from my presenting duties on Watchdog until the matter has been resolved."

The BBC said it respected Julia Bradbury's decision and she had not been suspended.

'Suspicious activity'

The police investigations are believed to be centred on a Virgin Atlantic employee.

A spokeswoman for the airline said: "Virgin Atlantic can confirm that it has closed a number of accounts belonging to some members of its frequent flyer programme, Flying Club, due to suspicious activity relating to earning miles and tier points.

"We can confirm that information has been passed to the police for further investigation."

Gina Fox, Ms Bradbury's sister and agent, said both of their accounts had been suspended while the investigation was being carried out but they had been issued with new loyalty cards.

Det Ch Insp Nick May said: "Sussex Police can confirm that an allegation of theft and fraud has been made by Virgin Atlantic.

"An investigation is in its early days and police have not yet looked at any flying club accounts nor who they belong to."

He added: "Detectives have met with representatives from, and are working closely with Virgin Atlantic, to establish what evidence, if any, there is.

"No arrests have been made.

"It would be entirely wrong for Police to comment on speculation regarding who may, or may not be involved in an investigation."



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