Scotland Times

Sunday, Jan 29, 2023

Police Scotland pay out almost £1m over sexism case

Police Scotland pay out almost £1m over sexism case

Police Scotland has paid a former female firearms officer almost £1m after an employment tribunal found she had been victimised.

Rhona Malone raised concerns about sexism within the force.

She had received an email saying two female firearms officers shouldn't be deployed together when there were sufficient male staff on duty.

Ms Malone's solicitor Margaret Gribbon told the BBC it was a watershed moment for Police Scotland.

In a joint statement from Ms Malone and Police Scotland, they said a settlement had been agreed which included a payment of £947,909.07.

It said Chief Constable Iain Livingstone had personally apologised to Ms Malone for the serious issues highlighted in the tribunal.

This included the force's "poor response when a dedicated and promising officer raised legitimate concerns".

The statement added that the chief constable was committed to "leading change" in policing in Scotland to improve the experiences of women.

'Horrific culture'

The tribunal heard last year that Ms Malone, who was based in Edinburgh, was a committed police constable who had an exemplary record.

It accepted evidence that the culture in parts of armed policing was "horrific" and an "absolute boys' club."

One female officer said she was told women should not be firearms officers because they menstruate and this would affect their temperament.

The tribunal was critical of witnesses appearing on behalf of Police Scotland. It found the evidence of a chief superintendent "implausible" and "wholly unsatisfactory" and described the actions of an HR official as "neither honest nor reliable."

Rhona Malone was a police firearms officer

When Rhona Malone raised concerns about her experiences she was offered a small payout on the condition she signed a non disclosure agreement (NDA) to stop her speaking out. She refused and ended up taking her case to an employment tribunal.

In 2020, Ms Malone told the BBC she wanted acknowledgement and accountability for the way she'd been treated and would have been an absolute hypocrite if she'd signed the NDA.

Last year she described winning her tribunal as "vindication" but said Police Scotland had put her through "absolute hell."

Ms Malone's solicitor Margaret Gribbon said her client was relieved the "long, costly, and stressful" litigation was over.

She told BBC Scotland: "Unfortunately it has cost the taxpayer exorbitant sums but that is the price that has to be paid where an employer has committed multiple breaches of the equality act."

Ms Gribbon said that there had also been losses on other levels.

Solicitor Margaret Gribbon said it should be a "watershed" moment for Police Scotland

"My client has lost a promising police career and the tribunal heard evidence from other armed female officers who had been trained at considerable public expense, but have been driven out of the firearms division because of the rampant culture of sexism," she said.

Ms Gribbon added: "This ought to be a watershed moment for Police Scotland. My client's motivation in pursuing this litigation was always to obtain accountability and for her harrowing experience to be used as a catalyst for change."

"The chief constable has said that he will lead that change and - in his words - he said action should be taken that should be 'visible, aggressive and firm'.

"That ought to start with Police Scotland pledging to publicly divulge details of the recommendations and findings of the PSNI [Police Service of Northern Ireland] review and also their plan of action to ensure that the taxpayer is not unnecessarily exposed to the risk of such eyewatering sums being paid as a result of breaches of employment legislation."

Police Scotland said the PSNI was finalising its work on the independent review of the employment tribunal decision.


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