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I lost my job and home over airport photo with Nadine – security worker

AN airport security worker spoke of his devastation after losing his job and his home – after posing for a picture with Nadine Coyle.

Alex Duffy (31) said he still can't believe what has happened to him after "an innocent bit of banter" with the Girls Aloud singer.

And he thinks the star will be "horrified" when she finds about the move by City of Derry Airport.

The incident happened just hours after Nadine flew out of her native Derry following an appearance at a concert celebrating the City of Culture.

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"It was January 21 and I was fired nine days later," Alex told the Herald. "I was on a written warning after an incident in November where I swore at another member of staff when a row became a bit heated.

"I posted the picture on Facebook with a bit of craic in the caption, saying things like I thought she was Victoria Beckham, but it was all good, clean fun.

"The next thing I'm brought in and told I shouldn't be putting pictures of passengers on Facebook and I was fired."

He lost an appeal against his sacking this week. According to the official records of the investigation into the case by Derry City Council – which owns the airport – Alex was in breach of clear rules.

"The photograph ... clearly showed you wearing your City of Derry Airport uniform and clearly showed that you were in the Security Search area," reads the council ruling.

"You had previously been given a written warning for unacceptable and abusive behaviour in the workplace and posting a comment about a colleague on to Facebook.

"It is clear that these behaviours had not improved during the eight week interval as you had been told these behaviours should not be repeated and that you should refrain from posting anything on to Facebook that is Company related."

The letter went on to tell Mr Duffy that after a disciplinary hearing, he was dismissed for gross misconduct.

Mr Duffy, who has worked in security for 10 years and worked at the London Olympics last year, told the Herald: "The whole thing was blown out of proportion.

"I asked Nadine, 'Are you Victoria Beckham'? She told me she'd heard that joke before and then posed for the picture and was clearly very happy about it.

"My Facebook profile was set to public, so the picture was shared and liked by 850 people.

"There were 17 comments and some of them were negative, but I didn't write them. I actually wrote Nadine is a great ambassador for the city. I was delighted she shared a joke with us at the airport. I am not critical of Nadine at all."

The council, however, did receive complaints and Alex was fired.

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He also lost his appeal and has since taken his case to the Labour Relations Agency in the North.

The security guard, chair of his community association in the Strathfoyle area of Derry, said he had now lost his home too.

"I've had to sign on the dole for the first time in my life," he said.

"I'm now losing the home I rent because I don't have the money to pay it in time, so that's gone too.

"I'm gutted. And I suspect Nadine, who is a great woman from this city, wouldn't be too happy about it either. She has never forgotten her roots."

A City of Derry spokesperson stated: "We do not comment on staff matters."

hnews@herald.ie


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