Ex-armed response officer reveals ‘excruciating’ fight against Police Scotland

A former armed response officer awarded almost £1 million by Police Scotland over victimisation has said that no amount of compensation will “ever make up for the pain or sacrifices” she made.

By Katrine Bussey
Saturday, 14th May 2022, 1:01 pm
Updated Thursday, 19th May 2022, 7:12 pm

Rhona Malone, who was based at Fettes in Edinburgh said she had been through an “excruciating and torturous few years”, but 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”.

Her comments came as she criticised not just Police Scotland, but the Scottish Police Federation (SPF), the body which represents rank and file officers.

Ms Malone claimed: “Unfortunately, both organisations failed me and grossly underestimated my determination for acknowledgment and accountability.”

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Rhona Malone was a highly-trained firearms officer based in Edinburgh

The SPF has strongly refuted the criticism.

Her comments came the day after it was revealed a settlement had been agreed with Police Scotland which will see her receive £947,909.07.

That also included a “personal apology to Ms Malone” from Chief Constable Iain Livingstone for the “serious issues highlighted in the employment tribunal judgment, including Police Scotland’s poor response when a dedicated and promising officer raised legitimate concerns”.

Ms Malone began her action against the force 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.

Rhona Malone loved her job as a Police Scotland officer

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

In its judgment in October last year, the employment tribunal upheld Ms Malone’s claims of victimisation. However, her claim of direct discrimination was dismissed.

In a statement, the former police constable said it had been “quite a journey”, adding it was “sadly one that could have so easily been avoided”.

Ms Malone said her “quest for justice” had “come at great personal risk” with possible costs “in the region of six figures”.

But she said: “At long last I have closure to what has been an excruciating and torturous few years but one that I hope will benefit many women now and in the future.

“It is important for me to say that had the individuals in positions of trust and authority who victimised and suppressed my pursuit for acknowledgment and accountability been honest, shown moral integrity and empathy for my situation, then perhaps Police Scotland could have taken the opportunity to communicate and evidence a far more progressive and inclusive organisation.

“This would have empowered police officers and made Scotland proud.”

She also said that had she received “care and support from the Scottish Police Federation then perhaps Police Scotland would not have responded with contempt or attempted to suppress and deny me justice”.

Ms Malone insisted that with the “notable exception” of one person, the SPF had “failed me as a member when I most needed their assistance”.

Hitting out at the organisation, she added: “At a time when I was at my most vulnerable and reliant on their support financially and mentally, I was abandoned, ignored, and discarded.”

The SPF said those claims were “demonstrably untrue”.

Ms Malone insisted her “attempts to obtain justice were obstructed because they withdrew legal support for my case in 2019” when she refused to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement and accept a “derisory financial settlement amount”.

She added: “I am still seeking accountability from organisations who negatively impacted my life, obstructed me and who I believe were complicit in the suppression of the discrimination and victimisation that I was trying to call out. This includes the Scottish Police Authority.

“These organisations had an important role to play in my case and some continue to do so, therefore it is vital that I continue to seek accountability. These processes have already started, and I hope to report on them in the near future for complete transparency.”

She also stated: “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.”

Ms Malone said she now planned to disable her social media and “disappear for a while”, adding that while she had been “extremely vocal about the discrimination and victimisation I experienced” she felt it that now “the time is right to regain my privacy in order to heal and protect my family”.

She thanked all those who had helped her “especially my witnesses and legal team and all those who have positively impacted my case”.

Ms Malone also told her supporters: “Your kindness and generosity will never be forgotten.”

A spokesman for the SPF said: “The SPF has a long and proud history of challenging discrimination and harassment wherever and whenever it occurs, and the SPF continues to do so on a day-to-day basis.

"The SPF withdrew legal assistance following independent legal advice that the settlement terms offered to Ms Malone following a judicial mediation were reasonable and were unlikely to be better than what a tribunal would award, based on the available evidence.

"We will never know if the settlement offer made following the mediation would have been shown to be reasonable as Police Scotland settled the claim prior to a financial award being made.

"Following the withdrawal of legal support, the SPF continued to support Ms Malone throughout the tribunal proceedings including through a Federation official giving evidence on behalf of Ms Malone. The legal assistance

that is provided by the Federation to members is subject to published guidelines that the SPF require to follow for the benefit of all Federation members. Ms Malone’s claims that she was abandoned, ignored and discarded by

the Federation are demonstrably untrue. We are nonetheless pleased that for Ms Malone, this matter has finally been resolved.”