Former AFL coach sues Victoria Police over 'public ridicule'

Chris Young
·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
Former AFL coach and player Dani Laidley is suing Victoria Police over her treatment in custody when she was arrested in May, 2020. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Former AFL coach and player Dani Laidley is suing Victoria Police over her treatment in custody when she was arrested in May, 2020. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Former AFL coach Dani Laidley is launching legal action against Victoria Police, claiming she was subjected to 'humiliation and ridicule' by officers after her arrest in Melbourne last year.

Laidley was arrested and charged with stalking in May last year, and was spared a conviction in court last November after she was placed on an adjourned undertaking instead.

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Her mugshot and another image of her sitting in an interview room wearing a blonde wig and a dress were disseminated through a WhatsApp group called "SD1 Gentleman's Club" by Detective Senior Constable Murray Gentner, according to documents lodged in the Victorian Supreme Court.

The images were later leaked outside the WhatsApp group and shared among social media users and news outlets.

Laidley was described as a 'full blown tranny' and 'dressing like a tranny' in messages shared in the group, with the former premiership player alleging officers sought to expose her to 'humiliation and ridicule'.

"The first and second photographs and the words communicated by police officers ... were understood to mean that (Laidley), by reason of dressing as and/or identifying as a woman, was deserving of disparagement and ridicule and that she was a ridiculous spectacle," her writ said.

“The plaintiff has been injured in her feelings, credit and reputation, has been brought into public ridicule and contempt and has suffered and continues to suffer injury loss and damage.”

Laidley alleges police breached their duty of care and is seeking "aggravated and exemplary" damages for being "brought into public ridicule and contempt".

It was previously revealed 39 officers and public servants faced internal disciplinary action over the leak, while six officers were ordered to pay Laidley compensation.

Officers investigated over Dani Laidley photo leak

A seven-month investigation resulted in charges being laid against several officers and staff, including a senior detective, in December last year.

Victoria Police chief commissioner Shane Patton says hearings for six officers wound up this week.

"We have had some discipline hearing outcomes as well this week. We've had six officers who've had the matters proven," he told 3AW on Friday.

"The independent hearing officer has put them on a good behaviour bond for 12 months, but in addition to that, ordered that they undertake a respect course ... as well as awarding compensation to Dani Laidley."

Pictures of Dani Laidley in police custody last year were circulated among police officers, and later news outlets. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
Pictures of Dani Laidley in police custody last year were circulated among police officers, and later news outlets. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

The former North Melbourne coach recently underwent a gender transition, having previously being known as Dean.

The leaked photos sparked outrage against Victoria Police at the time, with state police minister Lisa Neville declaring the saga 'completely unacceptable'

The minister described the decision to take the pictures as 'idiotic'.

"I can't understand how people can't believe that's not going to get distributed to anyone, those sort of photos. It was an idiotic thing to do, unacceptable thing to do," Ms Neville said.

With AAP

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