Ex-Cop Says He Gave Up His Dream Job After Boss Targeted Gay Officers
The New South Wales police force is set to pay compensation to four police officers who were targeted by a senior officer because they were gay.
It comes after a landmark decision from the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal which slammed former Superintendent Simon Hardman for acting on prejudice against homosexual men.
The tribunal handed down its decision on Friday after finding that Hardman, who has since left the force, launched an obsessive campaign against five gay officers.
One of those officers, a senior constable based in Sydney's Newtown at the time, was Chris Sheehy who told 10 News First he was "very relieved" and felt vindicated after the decision.
"It's had a great deal of impact on my life, it's caused a great deal of stress," Sheehy claimed.
"Ultimately, I've left the NSW Police Force. My career dreams of becoming a police prosecutor didn't come to fruition because of this case. It caused a great deal of harm."
Sheehy believes there is a systematic problem in the force, particularly in what he describes as the "old school boys' club in the higher ranks".
"I think it does still exist within the NSW Police, certainly not amongst my peers and the young generation of police officers, I think there is a greater level of respect, equality and diversity among them."
Sheehy was one of four officers who were placed under secret surveillance and subjected to repeated drug testing and slurs about their private lives in 2015, an investigation revealed.
The allegations levelled at the officers by Superintendent Hardman at the time included that they were "notorious for their promiscuity", actively involved in illegal drug use and had "loose morals".
On Friday, the tribunal found those claims had no sound basis.
Instead, it found the assertions were merely "stereotypical assumptions concerning homosexual men rather than any well-founded belief on the part of Superintendent Hardman," the tribunal found.
NSW Police say they are reviewing the decision but the case has already been costly for the force.
The police and their insurers have reportedly spent close to two million dollars defending this case and that's before compensation orders, which are yet to be decided.
All four of the officers affected are now out of the force. Their lawyer Nicholas Stewart said the discrimination they faced has affected their careers.
"These gentlemen were hard-working police officers," Stewart said.
"The community deserves to have good police officers in public service and unfortunately because of this discrimination, their careers have been affected."
Hardman has also left the police force. He now has a new job as head of campus security at the University of Sydney.
10 News First contacted Hardman for comment, but he declined to speak over the phone.