Victoria Police has suspended or transferred 13 officers in connection with the leaked photographs of former AFL coach Dean Laidley.

53-year-old Laidley was arrested on May 2 from outside a home in St Kilda and charged with allegedly stalking a woman he had met on the online dating app Tinder. A day later, mugshots and photos of Laidley dressed in a blond wig and dress while in the custody of the police were shared on social media. Though it is not clear whether Laidley identifies as transgender, equal rights activists condemned the leaking of the photographs for breaching privacy and said that the act had transphobic overtones.

Laidley’s lawyer Phill Dunn QC had told the media that his client was “devastated” over the leak of the photographs. Laidley was released on bail on May 11 to attend a rehab facility.

Within days the Victoria Police suspended four police officers with pay, including senior constable Shane Reid.  Commissioner of Victoria Police Shane Patton, who was then the deputy commissioner, had said that a senior constable could be charged with criminal offences over the leaked photos under provisions relating to “unauthorised access to police information.” The offence carries a jail term of up to two years or almost $40,000 in fines

On Friday, the police spokesperson confirmed to the media that a total of seven police officers had been suspended in connection with the incident, and six others had been transferred. The Age reported that those suspended included two detective senior constables, two senior constables, one constable and two police custody officers. Three constables, two senior constables and one senior detective constable were transferred to other duties.

A Professional Standards Command investigation by the Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC) is presently looking into the incident.

Robert Redlich, Commissioner for IBAC had said that besides investigating the issue of privacy breach and how many officers were involved in taking the initial photographs and later sharing them, the Victoria Police were also “looking at any underlying cultural issues, and how they can build on their work with the LGBTQI community and ensure their officers have proper regard to human rights.”

“Victoria Police must investigate transphobia as a motive, and do more to challenge transphobia in its ranks. We call on all Australian police services to implement nationally-consistent and high-standard training for police in transgender issues,” Veteran transgender advocate and just.equal spokesperson Martine Delaney had said at the time.


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