Former AFL coach Dani Laidley is suing Victoria Police for negligence over the alleged “malicious” leaking of sensitive photos of her in custody that outed her as transgender.
Last May, Dani Laidley was arrested for stalking offences outside a woman’s home, to which she later plead guilty.
After the arrest, a photo of Laidley’s mugshot and a photo of her with two officers while wearing a wig, makeup and a dress were leaked and shared on social media.
Multiple newspapers and news sites also published the photos on their front pages the next day.
At the time, Laidley’s gender transition was not publicly known and the leaked photos outraged transgender advocates.
Now Laidley is launching legal action in Victoria’s Supreme Court. She alleges the police force breached its duty of care to her while she was in custody.
Court documents allege Detective Senior Constable Murray Gentner shared Laidley’s mugshot with at least nine others in a WhatsApp group.
The documents accuse Gentner of using disparaging language to describe Laidley to two others.
He allegedly said Dani Laidley had been “dressing like a tr***y” and was a “full-blown tr***y”.
Another officer also allegedly took the photo of Laidley in the interview room and then shared it in the same message group.
The photos and text messages about Laidley were later republished on social media and widely shared.
Dani Laidley argues Victoria Police breached their duty of care
Laidley’s lawyers allege Victoria Police and the officers breached the duty of care while she was in custody.
She claims they failed to care for her physical and psychological safety by the release of the images.
Laidley’s lawyers allege the publication of the photos and words “was actuated by malice”.
“The nature of the photographs and the words communicated by police officers were such as to invite and expose the plaintiff to humiliation and ridicule,” the documents claim.
“Those officers intended, or knew or ought to have known that the natural and probable result would be the republication [of the photos and words] in the press, on radio and television, and on the internet.
“[Laidley] has been injured in her feelings, credit and reputation, has been brought into public ridicule and contempt and has suffered and continues to suffer loss and damage.”
Dani Laidley is now seeking unspecified aggravated damages in the lawsuit.
Victoria Police are not commenting on the legal action.
Victoria Police officers ordered to pay compo for leaked photos
Last month, six Victoria Police officers involved were ordered to pay Dani Laidley between $1000 and $3000 each in compensation.
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said the six officers had appeared before a police disciplinary hearing.
“The independent hearing officer has put them on a good behaviour bond for 12 months,” Mr Patton told 3AW.
“In addition to that, ordered they undertake a respect course through [the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission] as well as [Laidley’s compensation] for the harm caused.”
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