Police Scotland has paid out almost £948,000 in compensation to Rhona Malone – a former firearms officer who won a tribunal last year in which she accused the force of sexism and discrimination.
The force has now paid Malone £947,909 in damages and costs after her successful claim that she had been victimised under the Equalities Act 2010.
The tribunal heard that Malone had complained about a written recommendation that she and another female officer should not be deployed together if a male officer was available.
The email from Inspector Keith Warhurst had said that two female officers should not be deployed together because apart from “the obvious differences in physical capacity, it makes 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, and issued a formal complaint.
The tribunal also heard there had been a series of incidents where female officers had experienced sexist and sometimes abusive attitudes.
Examples included Warhurst distributing pictures of topless women on an internal WhatsApp group, the inspector describing a colleague’s pregnant wife as a “f***ing fat bitch” and a female firearms office being sworn at when she asked for a two-piece suit as it made it easier to use the toilet.
At her tribunal, Malone criticised the force’s HR department for delaying her application for ill-health retirement because she was pursuing a grievance – a claim the force has denied.
In 2018 she was deemed unfit to serve after her mental health deteriorated.
Malone told the BBC after her tribunal she had been asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement in exchange for an out of court settlement, but she refused to sign.
In a statement on Friday (13 May), Police Scotland apologised for “its poor response when a dedicated and promising officer raised legitimate concerns”.
Iain Livingstone, the force’s chief constable, emphasised his personal commitment to “leading change in policing in Scotland which drives equality and inclusion to improve the experiences of all women, including our own officers and staff”.
A review ordered by the force into the employment tribunal decision, being carried out by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, is due later this year.