A year after her arrest in a stalking case, former AFL coach Dani Laidley is suing Victoria Police for allegedly leaking photographs while she was in custody last year.
Laidley, 54, said that the photos were shared on social media and then published by media outlets. The police she said had “breached a duty of care” and was liable for the republication of the images, as they should have known that the “sensitive images” would be shared widely on social media and by media outlets.
The former North Melbourne coach and player was arrested by the police on May 2, 2020, from outside a St Kilda home and was charged with stalking a woman.
A day later, photos of Laidley dressed in a blond wig and dress, taken while she was in custody, were shared widely on social media. In November 2020, she pleaded guilty to the stalking charges and the court placed her on an adjourned undertaking of good behaviour for 18 months.
Laidley also informed the court that she had undergone gender transition and identified as a woman.
According to the documents filed before the Supreme Court of Victoria, she claimed that one detective had posted a photograph to a Whatsapp group with nine members called “SD1 Gentleman’s Club”.
The detective then shared the images with other officers with derogatory words claiming Laidley was “dressing like a t#$%ny” and called her a “full-blown t#$%ny”.
A senior constable then published the second photograph to the same Whatsapp group.
“The nature of the first and second photographs and the words communicated by police officers of and concerning the plaintiff were such as to invite and expose the plaintiff to humiliation and ridicule,” the court documents said.
“The first and second photographs and the words communicated by police officers … were understood to mean that the plaintiff, by reason of dressing as and/or identifying as a woman, was deserving of disparagement and ridicule and that she was a ridiculous spectacle.”
“As a result of the matters set out above, the plaintiff has been injured in her feelings, credit, and reputation, has been brought into public ridicule and contempt and has suffered and continues to suffer injury, loss, and damage,” the plea said while seeking unspecified damages.
In December, the police suspended Senior Constable Murray Gentner and he was charged with unauthorised access of police information, unauthorised disclosure of police information and misconduct in public office.
The police also charged a senior constable from the Southern Metro Region and a constable from the North West Metro Region in the privacy case.
“Publication of the first and second photographs and the words by Gentner (and the two police officers) and other police officers whose identities are presently unknown to the plaintiff was actuated by malice,” Laidley claimed.