Senior Constable Neil Puncharch claimed privilege under the QCAT act and regularly declined to comment during cross-examination.
Senior Constable Neil Puncharch claimed privilege under the QCAT act and regularly declined to comment during cross-examination.

Police deny liability for DV privacy breach

THE Queensland Police Service claims it is not liable for a police officer breaching a Gold Coast domestic violence victim's privacy by giving her address to her ex-husband.

Brisbane police officer Senior Constable Neil Punchard accessed the police QPRIME database in 2014 and gave the information to the woman's ex-husband, who was a friend of his.

The ex-husband was then on temporary domestic violence orders preventing him from having access to the couple's children, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal heard today.

The woman, who found out about the privacy breach when she saw text messages between Sen Const Punchard and her ex-husband, had to move home.

Counsel for Queensland Police Service, Scott McLeod, told the tribunal the QPS did not accept it had any liability for the breach, under the Information Privacy Act.

He said the QPS accepted Sen Constable Punchard's access and release of the information was unauthorised.

The woman claims the QPS is vicariously liable for the privacy breach and is seeking compensation.

The tribunal was told Sen Const Punchard "was subject to disciplinary action and there was a sanction" as a result of the breach.

Member Susan Gardner told the woman she had to prove that QPS did not put in sufficient safeguards or take reasonable steps to prevent the officer accessing and releasing her information.

"What I have to decide today is whether the Service took sufficient steps to guarantee your privacy," Ms Gardiner told the woman.

When he took the stand, the officer said he as aware the applicant was "advocating for me to be criminally charged" for his actions.

"I have been informed by my solicitor that he made inquiries earlier this week with the Queensland Police Service and a complaint has been made against me and is being investigated by the Crime and Corruption Commission," Sen Const Punchard said.

"I wish to advise the tribunal at the outset that I am claiming self incrimination privilege under the QCAT act ... and I decline to answer any questions that may touch those allegations."

The officer regularly declined to comment during his cross-examination, claiming privilege a number of times, including when he was asked whether he was aware of the consequences for unlawfully accessing the police database and whether he was clear on the rules of accessing the system.

The tribunal's decision has been reserved.

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