Dani Laidley sues Victoria Police over unauthorised photography and disemination

May 4, 2021 |

It was hardly a shock that Dani Laidley sued Victoria Police over unauthorised photos taken when she was in the custody of the Victoria Police.  The question was when rather than if action would be taken.  And taken it has been, with a writ filed in the Victorian Supreme Court.   This follows on 6 police officers being ordered to pay Laidley compensation of up to $3,000 each by an internal disciplinary panel.  Those awards are ridiculously small and will be dwarfed by an award in the Supreme Court if the matter proceeds to trial and then judgment.  It is more likely that it will settle.  The then Deputy Victorian Police Commissioner, stated he was appalled by the conduct.  The career consequences for the officers have been severe with a senior constable and constable charged with the unauthorised disclosure of police information with the senior constable also charged with misconduct in public office

Once the images were leaked online they were shared by 224 Victorian Police.  Thirty nine police and public servants are or have faced internal disciplinary proceedings. 

The ABC has run a story on it here. The Australian has run a piece here.

The Age article on the subject provides:

Former AFL coach Dani Laidley is suing Victoria Police for negligence over the leaking of photos of her in custody, alleging officers acted with malice and used derogatory language to describe her in an internal message group.

A mugshot of Laidley and a photo of her being interviewed by two officers while wearing a wig and make-up were released and published on social media in the hours after her arrest outside a woman’s home in May last year.

Documents filed in the Supreme Court on Monday allege Detective Senior Constable Murray Gentner shared the images with at least nine Victoria Police officers in a WhatsApp message group called the “SD1 Gentleman’s Club” on May 3 last year.

The documents allege Detective Senior Constable Gentner used disparaging language to describe Ms Laidley to two other police officers, saying she had been “dressing like a tranny” and was a “full-blown tranny”.

The writ also singles out Senior Constable Shane Reid, who, it is alleged, showed the photo taken in an interview room of Ms Laidley and allowed a third unnamed officer to make a copy.

“Publication of the first and second photographs and the words by Gentner, Reid, Hall and other police officers whose identities are presently unknown to the plaintiff was actuated by malice,” the writ claims.

“Those officers intended, or knew or ought to have known that the natural and probable result would be the republication of the first and second photographs and the words in the press, on radio and television, and on the internet.

“[Ms Laidley] has been injured in her feelings, credit and reputation [and] has been brought into public ridicule and contempt and has suffered and continues to suffer loss and damage.”

Court documents also allege that police officer David Hall sent the images to two others, after which they were published on social media.

Ms Laidley alleges Victoria Police and the officers breached the duty of care owed to her while she was in custody, and that they failed to care for her physical and psychological safety by the release of the images.

She has not nominated a specific amount of money she is entitled to, but is claiming aggravated and exemplary damages from the state government.

The Age revealed in December that a seven-month investigation into the circulation of the images resulted in 39 officers and seven public servants facing internal disciplinary action. A further 224 employees of Victoria Police were cleared of any criminal or internal disciplinary action.

Three officers are facing criminal charges over the unauthorised disclosure of information and their cases remain before the courts.

The former North Melbourne player and coach, formerly known as Dean Laidley, recently underwent a gender transition. She pleaded guilty to stalking and was put on an adjourned undertaking to be of good behaviour for 18 months.

The release of the photographs caused her and her family “considerable distress”, her plea hearing was told in November.

Ms Laidley’s lawyer, principal solicitor at Robinson Gill Jeremy King, said neither he nor his client could comment on the matter while it was before the court.

Victoria Police said it was yet to receive a complaint, but that it would be assessed once it arrived.


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