Dozens of police officers warned over AFL coach photo leak

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More police officers have learned their fate after photos of former AFL coach Dani Laidley in custody were leaked.
More police officers have learned their fate after photos of former AFL coach Dani Laidley in custody were leaked.

Dozens of police officers and Victorian public servants questioned over the leaked mug shot of former AFL coach Dani Laidley have escaped with a warning.

Victoria Police confirmed to NCA NewsWire 35 people – including 28 police officers and seven public servants – had received an admonishment after facing internal disciplinary action.

Another five police officers – all senior constables – have had their matter heard by the internal disciplinary board and are awaiting the outcome, which is expected to be handed down this week.

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Chief Commissioner Shane Patton revealed on Friday that six officers – ranging in rank from constable to sergeant – had been ordered to pay Ms Laidley up to $3000 each in compensation for their role in distributing images and information.

A total of 11 police officers faced the internal discipline board after circulating the photos of Ms Laidley and information relating to her arrest.

Three police officers and a police custody officer are also facing criminal charges after allegedly leaking photos and information about the former star footballer and North Melbourne coach in custody.

Dani Laidley in action while coaching North Melbourne.
Dani Laidley in action while coaching North Melbourne.

Senior Constable Murray Gentner, who has been charged with misconduct in public office, and Constable David Hall, who has been charged with two counts of unauthorised disclosure of police information, are among the officers waiting to face court over the leaked photos.

Ms Laidley, previously known as Dean, changed her name after her lawyer Rob Stary explained in November that his client had undergone a gender transition.

The photos of Ms Laidley in custody were widely circulated on social media after her arrest, and the leak was slammed by Mr Patton at the time as “appalling”.

Ms Laidley was wearing a wig and make-up during the interview inside the St Kilda police station after being arrested in May last year.

A court sketch of former AFL player and coach Dani Laidley during a bail hearing at Melbourne Magistrates Court on May 11, 2020. Picture: AAP Image/Nine News
A court sketch of former AFL player and coach Dani Laidley during a bail hearing at Melbourne Magistrates Court on May 11, 2020. Picture: AAP Image/Nine News

At least 274 Victoria Police employees were interviewed in relation to the photo leak scandal.

A police spokeswoman said 224 of those were cleared of any criminal or internal disciplinary action in December after it was determined they had been sent the photos after they appeared on social media.

The spokeswoman said the almost year-long investigation into the photo leak would be completed soon, likely after the remaining five officers receive their verdict.

The six police officers ordered to pay Ms Laidley between $1500 and $3000 in compensation last week will also be required to complete a ‘Respecting Dignity’ course run by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission at their own time and expense.

Dani Laidley was arrested in St Kilda in May 2020. Picture: Yuri Kouzmin
Dani Laidley was arrested in St Kilda in May 2020. Picture: Yuri Kouzmin

Ms Laidley was sentenced to a diversion program and the matter was closed in March this year after the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court found the program completed.

It meant the three charges she was facing, including possessing methylamphetamine and committing an offence while on bail, were all dropped.

Laidley’s career started as a player for the West Coast Eagles in 1987 before she moved to Victoria to play for North Melbourne at the end of 1992, where she was a premiership player in 1996.

She was also coach of North Melbourne for seven years and has since been part of coaching teams at Port Adelaide, St Kilda and Carlton.

jack.paynter@news.com.au

Reporter

Sydney

Jack Paynter is NCA NewsWire’s breaking news and crime reporter based in Melbourne. He began his career as a local journalist at Leader community news in suburban Melbourne before moving to Hobart for a stint a…

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