A Victorian police officer has been stood down and is expected to be charged over the leaking of photos of former AFL player and coach Dean Laidley after he was arrested.
Laidley was arrested on Saturday night outside a home in St Kilda and charged with stalking and other offences.
On Sunday, photos of the 53-year-old's mug shot, as well as a photo of him in a long blonde wig and wearing a dress were disseminated on social media.
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On Monday afternoon Victoria Police announced the senior constable had been suspended with pay after an investigation into the leaking of the photos.
“I am appalled an employee of Victoria Police has taken these photographs,” Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton said at a press conference.
“It’s appalling conduct and it has no place in our organisation.
“It breaches a person’s privacy. It breaches their human rights and we’re taking this matter extremely seriously.”
The officer is expected to be charged and faces up to two years in jail and about $40,000 in fines.
Mr Patton said six other police officers were sent the photo via WhatsApp and could also face charges if it's found they disseminated it further.
The latter photo appears to be taken from inside the police station looking into the interview room where Laidley was being questioned.
The police officer will also be subject to internal disciplinary measures and the corruption watchdog has been notified, Mr Patton said.
Victoria Police earlier condemned the leaking of the photos.
“This is one of the most significant breaches of a person's privacy and Victoria Police will not tolerate this sort of behaviour,” a spokeswoman said on Monday.
“The community can be assured that we share these concerns and we are taking the matter extremely seriously.”
Police Minister Lisa Neville described the leak as “completely unacceptable”.
“It was an idiotic thing to do, it's an unacceptable thing to do," she told reporters.
Laidley’s lawyers slam ‘disgraceful’ leaking of photos
Laidley's lawyer Dee Giannopoulos described the incident as a gross breach of privacy.
“Outraged that pictures of my client, taken by some police officer, on the sly, when in custody in interview have hit the media. Typical #grossbreachofprivacy,” she tweeted.
Outraged that pictures of my client, taken by some police officer, on the sly , when in custody in interview have hit the media. Typical #grossbreachofprivacy— Dee Giannopoulos (@deeglaw) May 3, 2020
Another of his lawyers, Bill Doogue, also tweeted his anger.
“Disgraceful. Taking photos unlawfully and sharing them. And these were sneaky photos while in Police interview in Police Station by a Police Officer,” Mr Doogue said.
“Police should investigate and those involved pull down immediately.”
Disgraceful. Taking photos unlawfully and sharing them. And these were sneaky photos while in Police interview in Police Station by a Police Officer. FFS. https://t.co/XL57NIjDrg— Bill Doogue (@billdoogue) May 3, 2020
Police should investigate and those involved pull down immediately.— Bill Doogue (@billdoogue) May 3, 2020
Laidley faced Melbourne Magistrates' Court on Sunday and will remain in custody until May 11 after not applying for bail.
He played 151 AFL games from 1987-97 and was an inaugural player at West Coast.
After 52 games with the Eagles he joined the Kangaroos from 1993 and played 99 games at Arden St, including their 1996 premiership.
Laidley succeeded Denis Pagan as North coach in 2003 and in 149 games led them to the finals three times, before resigning during the 2009 season.
He then had assistant coaching roles at three AFL clubs until 2015.