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Woman in divorce row loses job fight

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Natasha Rudra

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The woman was found to have breached the AFP code of conduct after using  Australian Federal Police databases to dig up dirt on her ex-husband.

The woman was found to have breached the AFP code of conduct after using Australian Federal Police databases to dig up dirt on her ex-husband.

A WOMAN who used Australian Federal Police databases to dig up dirt on her former husband during a bitter divorce has lost a claim for unfair dismissal.

Fair Work Australia heard the woman, who worked as a financial analyst for the AFP, also tried to rope colleagues into her battle against her former husband but was sacked in April last year after he hired a private investigator and complained to police.

She was found to have breached the AFP code of conduct after getting a co-worker to send her records on her former husband's businesses, which she described as ''gold'' and forwarded on to her mother.

Police also found two sexually inappropriate photos on her work computer, including an image of ''two men's buttocks'' which she described as ''jovial''.

The woman told the workplace tribunal she had been unfairly dismissed and harshly treated.

The tribunal heard the woman, whose name has been suppressed, and her husband, referred to as Mr B in court papers, separated in 2004 and subsequently fought numerous battles in the courts and in the Child Support Agency. The woman believed Mr B was trying to evade paying taxes and child support.

In January 2007, she tried to recruit a colleague to obtain information about her former husband's businesses, asking him to visit Mr B's office in North Sydney posing as a customer looking for a loan.

A month later, she got another colleague to send her information about Mr B's businesses from the AUSTRAC database, which monitors suspicious financial transactions, tax evasion and money laundering.

She told her colleague, ''the AUSTRAC find is GOLD [sic] … Thanks Again!'' before forwarding the email to her mother, who was also a party to a legal dispute between the couple in the Family Court.

The woman included the AUSTRAC information in a letter to the Child Support Agency and also conducted six land title searches on Mr B using another AFP database.

When police launched an investigation in 2009, the woman denied asking her co-workers for help, then put the blame on the colleague who forwarded her the AUSTRAC information, saying she believed he had started an inquiry into her former husband's tax affairs.

The woman contended it was unfair that her colleague, a superintendent with more than 30 years' experience, kept his job while she was sacked.

But the tribunal senior deputy president Anne Harrison found there was no inconsistency in the way the AFP treated the superintendent and the woman.

In a judgment handed down last week, Ms Harrison found the woman's dismissal was valid. She found the woman had repeatedly breached the AFP code when she obtained records about Mr B.

She described the woman's explanations as ''implausible'' and said her evidence was evasive and inconsistent.