'Very proud': Dani Laidley's shock return in 'significant' AFL milestone

·4-min read
Pictured here, Dani Laidley returns to the North Melbourne footy club for a milestone event.
Dani Laidley made an emotional return to the North Melbourne footy club on Friday. Pic: Getty

Former AFL coach Dani Laidley has made a rare public appearance after returning to North Melbourne's headquarters on a momentous day for the AFL club.

Laidley was last week thrust back into the spotlight after Victoria's anti-corruption commission launched an investigation into allegations police officers once again shared a secret photo of the former AFL coach with transphobic comments.

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The new investigation comes just six months after Victoria Police ordered 11 officers to pay thousands of dollars to Ms Laidley after they leaked photos of her mug shot after an arrest.

Court documents alleged the mug shot was shared in a police WhatsApp group alongside transphobic comments.

Three police officers have been charged with a range of offences over the alleged leak.

Laidley has shied away from the public spotlight in the wake of the scandal but she was "proud" to return to North Melbourne's Arden St base to celebrate a milestone moment for the Kangaroos.

The 54-year-old who won a premiership with the club as a player in 1996 before coaching the Kangaroos between 2003 and 2009 - joined fellow former coach Brad Scott in celebrating the club eliminating their debt.

Pictured right, Former North Melbourne coach Dani Laidley speaks on a momentous occasion for the North Melbourne Football Club.
Former North Melbourne coach Dani Laidley (right) speaks on a day when the North Melbourne Kangaroos announced the club was debt-free. Pic: Getty

Laidley described it as a significant day for her "old and new tribe" and spoke of how important North had been in her life, as part of a panel discussion with Scott and current coach David Noble.

"I'm very proud today. It's a significant day," she said on Friday.

"It's probably the first time I've represented my old tribe and my new tribe so it's a significant week for us.

"I think, going forward, the club's in great hands."

She was welcomed by everyone in attendance, including North legend Brent Harvey, who gave his former coach a big hug.

North chairman Ben Buckley was delighted Laidley accepted the club's invitation.

"Dani's been an important part of the North Melbourne footy club's history," Buckley said.

"She has a lot of friends, past teammates and we reached out to Dani, embraced her and embraced the new chapter in her life and it's fantastic to see her here.

"To hear her speak and her memories of the football club, it gives you a very warm feeling that football clubs are very embracing of their people and we're here for Dani."

Investigation into new Dani Laidley photo leak

Laidley played 151 AFL games, including 99 for the Kangaroos, after being part of West Coast's inaugural team in 1987.

Last week, Victoria's anti-corruption commission confirmed it was investigating allegations police officers have again shared a secret photo of the 54-year-old with transphobic comments labelled as "vile" by Laidley's lawyer.

The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) is seeking out anyone with information into allegations an unsolicited photograph of Ms Laidley was shared via text message.

The photo was taken at the Ballan Cup at Geelong Racecourse on November 6.

According to IBAC, the photo was shared "alongside transphobic comments".

"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," it said.

The anti-corruption commission performs a critical role in independently over-sighting Victoria Police to ensure officers are accountable.

From left to right, Former North Melbourne coaches Brad Scott and Dani Laidley chat at a club event.
Former North Melbourne coaches Brad Scott and Dani Laidley were both on hand to celebrate the club's debt milestone. Pic: Getty

Ms Laidley's lawyer said he would lodge a complaint with the Professional Standards Command at Victoria Police.

"We don't know a lot about who took the photo, how widely it's been shared among Victoria Police," lawyer Jeremy King said.

"All we know is that somebody has taken a photo and it has been shared amongst Victoria Police members."

Mr King said Ms Laidley had found the incident distressing, describing comments attached to the photo as "pretty vile".

"That's really not appropriate within Victoria Police," he said.

"It's not appropriate within any organisation, but it's particularly not appropriate within Victoria Police and considering the history and context of this matter."

with AAP

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