Police officer who exposed ‘sexist boys club’ awarded £1m compensation

Police Scotland has paid a former female armed response officer almost £1m after she exposed the “ugly and rampant culture sexism and misogyny” within the firearms department.

Former constable Rhona Malone began grievance action after she received an email from a senior police officer saying he did not want to see two female armed officers deployed together when there were sufficient male staff on duty.

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

It said that the chief constable had given Ms Malone a “personal apology” due to the “serious issues” brought to light by the employment tribunal judgement. This included the “poor response” from Police Scotland.

The statement added that the chief constable is committed to “leading change” in policing Scotland to drive equality and improve experiences for women.

The tribunal accepted evidence that there was an “absolute boys club” culture within the armed response vehicle team.

Ms Malone transferred to the post of authorised firearms officer based in Edinburgh, Fettes Team 1, in October 2016 and was absent from duties with work-related stress from June 24 2018 until her retirement on April 2 2020.

Ms Malone’s solicitor Margaret Gribbon said her client had a promising police career prematurely ended and that other female armed firearms officers were being “driven out of firearms because of the sexist culture”.

She added: “Former PC Malone’s case must serve as a watershed for Police Scotland. Her main motivation in pursuing this case was always to publicly hold Police Scotland to account and to act as a catalyst for change.

“She welcomes the chief constable’s publicly stated commitment to leading change and, in his words, taking ‘practical, aggressive and visible action’.

“For former PC Malone that must, as a bare minimum, start with Police Scotland pledging to publicise the findings and recommendations of the ongoing PSNI’s review along with the steps it intends taking to tackle sexism and misogyny from within its ranks.”

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