A year after Dani Laidley’s leaked mug shots were splashed on social media, the former AFL coach will finally get some justice.
Eleven police officers have been ordered to pay Laidley between $500 and $3,000 over the leaking of the custodial photographs. Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton also indicated that the force would settle the breach of privacy case lodged by Laidley in Victoria’s Supreme Court.
“We have done the wrong thing… It was a breach of Dani’s human rights, it’s inappropriate conduct, it’s not acceptable,” Commissioner Patton said in an interview on 774 Melbourne radio.
On being asked if the police would offer an apology and payout, the commissioner responded “pretty much”.
Officers Face Disciplinary Board
A spokesperson said that the eleven police officers faced an internal disciplinary board for circulating the photographs and sharing the information of her arrest.
The board ordered the 11 officers to pay compensation to Laidley depending on their “culpability and involvement” in the case. They have also been asked to participate in the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission’s ‘Respecting Dignity’ course.
Three police officers – suspended Senior Constable Murray Gentner, a senior constable from the Southern Metro Region and a constable from the North West Metro Region – are also facing criminal charges in the case. They are charged with unauthorised access of police information, unauthorised disclosure of police information and misconduct in public office.
Arrest and Leak Of Photographs
Laidley, a 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, a mugshot as well as a photograph of Laidley dressed in a blond wig and dress, taken while she was in custody, were shared widely on social media and by the tabloid press.
Laidley, who had transitioned and informed the court that she identifies as a woman, pleaded guilty to the stalking charges in November 2020. The court placed her on an adjourned undertaking of good behaviour for 18 months.
Earlier this month, Laidley filed a case against the Victoria police and sought unspecified damages over the leak of the photographs.
Police Liable For Leak of Photographs
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 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,” Laidley has claimed in her petition.
Laidley’s case is that police had “breached a duty of care” and was liable for the republication of the images. In her petition she said that police should have known that the “sensitive images” would be shared widely on social media and by media outlets.
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