A former undercover north-east cop has won a court action against the force over her treatment after she alerted senior staff of her fears a colleague’s actions had compromised covert operations.
A judge ruled the woman was subjected to a lack of fair treatment after she raised an action against former Police Scotland Chief Constable Sir Stephen House.
Lord Brailsford found in favour of the woman on the issue of liability in a judgment but further procedure may be required to assess the compensation she is due.
The woman, who joined Grampian Police in 1990, brought a damages claim for £1 million and maintained she was a whistleblower but was left feeling that she was being treated as a wrongdoer.
In 2011 the woman, known as Mrs K, was working in the special operations unit (SOU) at the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA) when she went to a covert mail box operated by a fellow detective sergeant and found unopened mail containing bank statements, phone bills and letters from debt collectors.
The woman told the Court of Session in Edinburgh: “My stomach fell. I felt physically sick. Obviously there was something not right here.” She said there were bank statements and phone bills in names she had never previously heard.
She was “extremely concerned” and feared covert operations and individuals involved in them may be compromised.
She informed a senior officer and then went to premises she had been using as an office with the detective sergeant and discovered it was ransacked.
An internal investigation was launched, and as part of it, the woman was questioned by detectives for two-and-a-half days which left her feeling “degraded”.
A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We note the decision of the court and are now considering the terms of the judgment.”
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During a further meeting with more senior officers she was told she was being suspended from her role as an undercover operative.
She said she could not understand why this was happening as she was the innocent party and the officer who had discovered the problem being investigated.
The former Grampian Police officer was later transferred to work in a witness protection unit which she said she was told was a temporary move.
She was off work for a period and on her return was told by an officer who had replaced her in the SCDEA’s special operations unit that “no one wants to tell you this, but your job was advertised”.
Finding in the woman’s favour, Lord Brailsford said: “I am bound to conclude that she was deliberately misled in relation to that posting.
“Again I am of the view that that factor constitutes a lack of fair treatment.”