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Laidley sues police over leaking of photos, alleges officers acted with malice

Former AFL coach Dani Laidley is suing Victoria Police over the leaking of photos that were taken of her while in custody, alleging officers acted with malice and used derogatory language to describe her in an internal message group.

A mugshot of Laidley and a photo of her being interviewed by two officers while wearing a wig and make-up were released and published on social media in the hours after her arrest outside a woman’s home in May last year.

A court sketch of Dani Laidley from last year.Credit:Nine News

Documents filed in the Supreme Court on Monday allege Detective Senior Constable Murray Gentner shared the images with at least nine Victoria Police officers in a WhatsApp message group called the “SD1 Gentleman’s Club” on May 3 last year.

The documents allege Detective Senior Constable Gentner used disparaging language to describe Ms Laidley to two other police officers, saying she had been “dressing like a tranny” and was a “full-blown tranny”.

The writ also singles out Senior Constable Shane Reid, who, it is alleged, showed the photo taken in an interview room of Ms Laidley and allowed a third unnamed officer to make a copy.

“Publication of the first and second photographs and the words by Gentner, Reid, Hall and other police officers whose identities are presently unknown to the plaintiff was actuated by malice,” the writ claims.

Detective Leading Senior Constable Murray Gentner.Credit:Joe Armao

“Those officers intended, or knew or ought to have known that the natural and probable result would be the republication of the first and second photographs and the words in the press, on radio and television, and on the internet.

“[Ms Laidley] has been injured in her feelings, credit and reputation [and] has been brought into public ridicule and contempt and has suffered and continues to suffer loss and damage.”

Court documents also allege that police officer David Hall sent the images to two others, after which they were published on social media.

Ms Laidley alleges Victoria Police and the officers breached the duty of care owed to her while she was in custody, and that they failed to care for her physical and psychological safety by the release of the images.

She has not nominated a specific amount of money she is entitled to, but is claiming aggravated and exemplary damages from the state government.

The Age revealed in December that a seven-month investigation into the circulation of the images resulted in 39 officers and seven public servants facing internal disciplinary action. A further 224 employees of Victoria Police were cleared of any criminal or internal disciplinary action.

Three officers are facing criminal charges over the unauthorised disclosure of information and their cases remain before the courts.

The former North Melbourne player and coach, formerly known as Dean Laidley, recently underwent a gender transition. She pleaded guilty to stalking and was put on an adjourned undertaking to be of good behaviour for 18 months.

The release of the photographs caused her and her family “considerable distress”, her plea hearing was told in November.

Ms Laidley’s lawyer, principal solicitor at Robinson Gill Jeremy King, said neither he nor his client could comment on the matter while it was before the court. Victoria Police have been contacted for comment.

More to come

With Simone Fox Koob and Adam Cooper

Crisis support is available from Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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