Dani Laidley slams police officers accused of new transphobic photo leak


victoria police dani laidley photo leak
Victoria Police stock photo. Image: Julian Meehan/Flickr

Victoria’s public sector watchdog is investigating allegations police officers circulated another unsolicited photo of former AFL coach Dani Laidley with transphobic comments.

An unknown stranger took the unsolicited photo of Laidley, who is transgender, as she spoke with friends at the Ballan Cup at Geelong Racecourse on November 6.

Victoria Police officers allegedly then shared the photo via text message, alongside “vile” transphobic comments about her.

The state’s Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) is now investigating the claims.

“IBAC is asking any member of the public or police personnel who witnessed the photo being taken, or has information about the photo in a text message being sent or received, to contact IBAC,” the watchdog said.

IBAC independently oversees Victoria Police to ensure accountability from the state’s police officers.

Six months ago, Victoria Police ordered 11 of its officers to pay Laidley thousands in compensation after they “maliciously” shared sensitive photos of her after a May 2020 arrest. At least two newspapers also then published the leaked photos on their front pages.

At the time, Laidley’s gender transition was not publicly known. The leak sparked outrage and an apology from Victoria Police’s Chief Commissioner Shane Patton.

Victoria Police also charged three officers with a range of offences after a major investigation.

Dani Laidley speaks out about ‘extremely disappointing’ incident

Dani Laidley has complained to Victoria Police’s Professional Standards Command after the “distressing” new incident this month.

She told The Age it was “extremely disappointing to have to relive past traumas” after finding out about the officers’ alleged “offensive and transphobic” comments.

“The police do a wonderful job. But a small minority of their members still think this behaviour is acceptable,” she said.

“I feel this will greatly disappoint Chief Commissioner [Shane Patton]. [He] has been clear in his communication it is not to be tolerated.”

Speaking to The Age, Dani Laidley said Transgender Awareness Week begins this Saturday.

She explained she wished to take a stand against vilification of trans people.

“This is a time to celebrate the transgender community and also reflect and pay tribute to lives lost, in some parts, to similar transphobic attitudes experienced by too many,” she said.

“We need to support each other, not tear each other down.”

Victoria Police responds to Dani Laidley photo allegations

A Victoria Police spokesperson said the force is “unaware of the photo’s origin or any corresponding messages” by employees.

“Furthermore, we have not received any details of the members allegedly involved,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said anyone with police misconduct complaints should contact its Professional Standards Command or IBAC.

Chief Commissioner Shane Patton also told ABC Radio they would take action if officers made “derogatory” and “crude” comments.

“If that’s the case, we will certainly hold them to account,” he said.

“If the comments are at a standard that breaches our discipline, our code of conduct, we’ll charge them.

“But I just don’t have the depth of knowledge at this stage.”

Patton claimed no officers were on duty at the venue and also appealed for information on the allegations.

“I too ask for information. We need to understand whether any police officers [made] any derogatory comments,” he said.

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