Former firearms officers says £1m payout will not make up for pain

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Image caption,
Ms Malone won an employment tribunal case against Police Scotland

A former firearms officer awarded £1m from Police Scotland says no amount of compensation will "ever make up for the pain and sacrifices" she made.

Rhona Malone was victimised while working for the force, an employment tribunal ruled last year.

It found evidence of a sexist culture in her armed policing unit.

Ms Malone said she was failed by Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers.

She said she was still trying to seek "accountability" from other organisations, including the Scottish Police Authority.

Chief Constable Iain Livingstone has personally apologised to Ms Malone.

The Scottish Police Federation said it had a "long and proud history" of assisting members in discrimination cases.

In a statement published a day after her £947,909.07 compensation deal was confirmed, Ms Malone said the last few years had been "excruciating and torturous".

But she said she hoped her experience of winning a victimisation claim against the force at an employment tribunal would "benefit many women now and in the future".

Ms Malone began her action against Police Scotland after a senior police officer said he did not want to see two female armed officers deployed together when there were sufficient male staff on duty.

The tribunal accepted evidence that there was an "absolute boys' club" culture within the armed response vehicle team in the east of Scotland.

In its judgment last October, it upheld Ms Malone's claims of victimisation. However, her claim of direct discrimination was dismissed.

'Grossly underestimated'

Ms Malone's statement went on to say she was grateful for the options and opportunities open to her following the payout from Police Scotland.

But she said they came at a "great cost" to herself, her family and her career.

"I would like it to be known that no amount of compensation would ever make up for the pain or sacrifices I made to hold Police Scotland to account but it will enable me to continue with my quest for holding them and others answerable for their actions," she said.

And the former firearms officer criticised the actions of both Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Federation for their conduct.

"Both organisations failed me and grossly underestimated my determination for acknowledgment and accountability," she said.

Image caption,
Rhona Malone was a police firearms officer

Ms Malone said the federation withdrew legal support for her case in 2019 when she refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) and accept a "derisory" financial settlement.

As a result she was left with costs running into six figures.

"At a time when I was at my most vulnerable and reliant on their support financially and mentally, I was abandoned, ignored, and discarded," she said.

"I should not have been put in this position as a fully paid-up member of the federation," Ms Malone added. "Sadly, I know from other female police officers who have reached out to me that my experiences with the federation are not unique."

'Leading change'

The federation said it withdrew legal assistance following independent legal advice that the settlement terms were "unlikely to be better than what a tribunal would award".

It added that the federation continued to support Ms Malone throughout the tribunal, with one official giving evidence on her behalf.

"Ms Malone's claims that she was abandoned, ignored and discarded by the Federation are demonstrably untrue," the federation added.

"We are nonetheless pleased that for Ms Malone, this matter has finally been resolved."

Chief Constable Iain Livingstone has personally apologised to Ms Malone for issues highlighted in the tribunal, according to a joint statement issued by Police Scotland and their former employee on Friday.

It said the chief constable was committed to "leading change" in policing in Scotland to improve the experiences of women.

Meanwhile the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) is carrying out a review of the employment tribunal decision, and it is in its final stages.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Police Authority said: "The chief constable has been clear that there is no place for victimisation or misogyny in policing and reinforced his commitment to driving improvement which the authority fully supports.

"We will continue to oversee and seek assurance around the progress and pace of change within policing and consider any recommendations from the PSNI review in due course."

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