A firearms officer with Police Scotland has accused HR officials at the force of misleading an employment tribunal and delaying her health-related retirement.
Rhona Malone is currently involved in a tribunal hearing against the force for sexism and discrimination where she has alleged that female officers were “set up to fail”.
Malone told the tribunal she was targeted by male colleagues after she complained about a more senior officer who said women should not be deployed together.
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She had joined the force in 2009 and became a firearms officer in 2016. In January 2018 she and a colleague were copied on an email from an inspector who said he did not want two women deployed together if there were sufficient male officers on duty.
The inspector said that there were obvious differences in physical capacity, but also that this made more sense from a “search, balance of testosterone perspective”.
The inspector later conceded that he had worded the email badly and Police Scotland told the tribunal that the email did not represent its views.
Malone, however, said the email had been a “slap in the face” and claimed it was part of a wider sexism issue in the force.
She told the tribunal she had been offered a pay out as long as she signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that would prevent her from speaking out about what happened.
She said: “I was a police officer, I was extremely proud of my job and I helped victims obtain justice and I expected to receive the same.
“For me, it is about changing things for the future. What I went through, there was no need for it.”
Malone said her mental health deteriorated and later in 2018 she was deemed unfit to serve.
During the tribunal proceedings yesterday, however, she accused HR officials at the force of delaying her application for ill-health retirement because she was pursuing a formal grievance. The force has denied this claim.
The tribunal heard that Alasdair Muir, a senior HR professional at the force, had sent an internal email saying her tribunal claim meant the decision to grant her ill-health requirement request “merited caution” and should be postponed.
He added that he had told Malone’s solicitor that the force was seeking its own psychiatric assessment, however. This was despite the fact that two medical experts had already submitted evidence that she would be unable to return to duty.
Muir told the tribunal that there was not a deliberate attempt to mislead or omit but accepted that the email could be read in such a way.
The tribunal began in mid-August and Judge Jane Porter will deliver her findings later this year.
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