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French firm denies Ikea spying link

A French security company tied to a legal complaint alleging that Swedish furniture giant Ikea illegally spied on staff and customers denied involvement on Saturday, blaming a renegade former employee.

French firm denies Ikea spying link

Prosecutors in Versailles near Paris on Thursday opened an investigation into the affair following a complaint from a trade union and a report in satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaine.

Ikea also said it would examine claims that the firm paid for illegal access to secret French police files in order to gain information about its employees, clients and even people who came near its property, Ikea said.

Le Canard published what it said were email exchanges between the head of the company’s risk management department, Jean-Francois Paris, and Yann Messian of Surete International about getting access to the police force’s STIC files.

The controversial STIC file system has been criticised for being an unreliable database of millions of names and personal information about crime perpetrators, victims and even witnesses.

The newspaper said that Surete International offered access to the files for €80 ($101) a time, as well as to a database of vehicle owners.

The report quoted emails requesting information on employees, including union members, on the names associated with a list of mobile phone numbers and asking to know who were the owners of certain car registrations.

A statement sent to AFP on Saturday said the former management of Surete International, which was wound up in 2011, denied responsibility for everything attributed to it.

The statement said the employee cited by the Canard Enchaine had already been informed of his dismissal for lack of results and disloyalty when he used Surete International’s email address to make an “illicit proposal” to Ikea’s risk manager on behalf of another company run by a friend.

“Any proposal or contract he might have made as commercial director would have been without the knowledge of his own management,” it said, while claiming the Ikea had not followed up the contact.

Surete International’s former boss Christophe Naudin told AFP the company had worked with Ikea in an advisory capacity since 1998 “but not for this type of inquiry”.

Messian for his part denied being behind any misuse of the STIC files, telling the rue89 website he had only “repeated something that Christophe Naudin told me”, without elaborating.

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WEATHER

Danish Ikea store shelters staff and customers overnight during snowstorm

Heavy snowfall left 31 people looking for a spare cushion at the Aalborg branch of Ikea on Wednesday as they were forced to spend the night at the store.

A file photo at Ikea in Aalborg, where 31 people stayed overnight during a snowstorm on December 1st 2021.
A file photo at Ikea in Aalborg, where 31 people stayed overnight during a snowstorm on December 1st 2021. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

Anyone who has found themselves wandering the mazy aisles of an Ikea might be able to empathise with the sense of being lost in the furniture store for a seemingly indefinite time.

Such a feeling was probably more real than usual for six customers and 25 staff members who were forced to spend the night at the furniture giant’s Aalborg branch after being snowed in.

Heavy snow in North Jutland brought traffic to a standstill and halted public transport in parts of the region on Wednesday afternoon, resulting in a snow-in at Ikea.

“This is certainly a new situation for us,” Ikea Aalborg store manager Peter Elmose told local media Nordjyske, which first reported the story.

“It’s certainly not how I thought my day would end when I drove to work this morning,” Elmose added.

The 31 people gathered in the store’s restaurant area and planned to see Christmas television and football to pass the evening, the store’s manager reported to Nordjyske.

“Our kitchen staff have made sure there is hot chocolate, risalamande, pastries, soft drinks, coffee and the odd beer for us in light of the occasion. So we’ll be able to keep warm,” he said.

“We couldn’t just send them outside and lock the door behind them at our 8pm closing time. Absolutely not. So of course they’ll be staying here,” he added.

The temporary guests were given lodging in different departments of the store in view of the Covid-19 situation, Nordjyske writes.

“For us , the most important thing was to take care of each other and that everyone feels safe,” Elmose said.

At least Ikea’s stranded customers and staff had somewhere comfortable to lay their heads.

The same can unlikely be said for around 300 passengers at the city’s airport who had to stay overnight at the terminal.

The airport was forced to stop flights from 2:30pm yesterday amid worsening weather, which also prevented buses from transferring passengers to hotels.

“We have around 300 people in the terminal right now and have been giving out blankets on the assumption they will be staying here tonight,” Aalborg Airport operations manager Kim Bermann told Nordjyske.

READ ALSO: Ikea reopens in Denmark after country’s worst retail month this century

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