Former North Melbourne coach Danielle Laidley is launching new legal action against Victoria Police.
Laidley alleges she was treated like a “ridiculous spectacle” after police officers shared photos of her and partner Donna Leckie. The Herald Sun reported the secret images show the couple attending the Ballan Cup meet at Geelong Racecourse in November 2021.
Laidley claimed in Supreme Court documents the photos were widely circulated on social media by members of Victoria Police. She claimed she did not know the person who took the photos and that it was a police officer or someone linked to the police.
Her lawyers now claim police breached their duty of care by sharing the photos, inviting “ridicule and humiliation”.
Victoria Police has issued a response.
“This matter was extensively investigated at the time and no evidence was found to suggest any Victoria Police members, either on or off duty, were involved,” a spokesperson said, according to The Age.
“As part of our internal investigation all members working at the event where the image was taken were contacted and investigated.
“The media outlet which initially reported the matter were contacted and refused to provide details on who sent the image, nor did they provide a copy of the alleged comments.
“Despite the best efforts of investigators we were unable to substantiate any claims that a police member was involved.”
In May 2020, Laidley was arrested wearing a dress and a blonde wig, and was charged with stalking and breaching a family violence order, among a series of other offences.
While she was in custody, police officers took photos of her in her wig and dress, sharing them on social media.
The photos quickly circulated, with TV, radio and print media broadcasting her struggles with substance abuse.
She revealed in a book launched in August she felt she had been treated by mocking police like “an animal in a zoo enclosure”.
“People … saw me coaching as a gruff, angry senior coach. And then I deliberately went off the radar and was starting to emotionally transition. Then all of a sudden, I pop up … with those disgusting photos,” she said.
“The photos were an invasion of privacy … I hate the words ‘come out’, why do I have to do that? I was living a quiet life. Yeah, I got lost, went off the rails for the first time in my life. And it was very embarrassing for me. The coming out, was taken away.”
Laidley in March reached a confidential settlement with Victoria Police after seeking “aggravated and exemplary” damages for being “brought into public ridicule and contempt”.
She is now seeking further aggravated and exemplary damages, interest and costs.
“The nature of the first and second photographs and the words communicated by police officers of and concerning the plaintiff were such as to invite and expose the plaintiff to humiliation and ridicule,” Laidley’s lawyers have said.
Laidley and Leckie stepped out in public earlier this Spring Carnival at Caulfield Guineas Day and were seen making an eye-catching appearance at the Brownlow Medal event in September.