Huge payout over cop leaking domestic violence survivor info
A GOLD Coast woman whose personal details were leaked to her abusive ex by a Queensland cop in an extraordinary breach of trust has finally been awarded a six-figure compensation settlement.
The woman, who cannot be named, took the Queensland Police Service (QPS) to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal seeking damages after Senior Constable Neil Punchard used the QPRIME database to forward her address to her ex-husband, a personal friend, in 2015.
Sen-Constable Punchard, who joked with his mate that the woman would "flip out" when her new address was discovered, was handed a suspended jail term but remains on the QPS payroll while he appeals the sentence severity.
The QPS has quietly settled with the woman, who was forced to move house after the ordeal and had sought $335,000 in damages.
After rejecting an initial offer of $70,000, which the woman labelled "insulting", she has accepted a revised, confidential figure believed to be in the range of six figures.
Speaking to The Courier-Mail yesterday, the woman said she could not comment on the terms of the settlement, but she had previously expressed disappointment that it had taken almost five years to reach a resolution and had dragged through several rounds of often traumatic mediation and negotiation.
The woman's husband and children are also considering separate action over the privacy breaches.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for the QPS said it was "not at liberty to discuss" the settlement, but acknowledged that the unlawful or improper use of information could have "significant consequences and impacts" for people whose privacy had been breached, and "expressed sincere regret".
"The Commissioner has publicly acknowledged that a failure to discharge prescribed responsibilities in an ethical, professional and lawful manner erodes public trust and confidence in the QPS," she said.
"A further assessment of the officer's suitability to remain as a police officer will be determined following the outcome of the appeal."
Sen-Constable Punchard, who has been stood down but remains on full pay, has an appeal set down for July.
Justice advocate Renee Eaves, a key witness at last year's Operation Impala hearings into the improper access of confidential information, said yesterday the QPS needed to send a strong message that unauthorised use of people's personal information would not be tolerated.
*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.
Originally published as Huge payout over cop's fail