'Police turned on Pc who blew the whistle'

A policewoman who blew the whistle on a colleague doing paid work while off sick was ostracised by her colleagues, an employment tribunal heard yesterday.

Pc Rebecca Hunt-Brown, an officer with South Yorkshire Police for 22 years, discovered her line supervisor Sgt Keith Moran was building a new extension at another officer's home.

When she told the officer the sergeant was off sick with a stress-related illness he reacted with astonishment. When Mrs Hunt-Brown, 41, told him Sgt Moran had been away for three months, the sergeant replied: "Oh bloody hell, I have been paying him."

When Mrs Hunt-Brown reported the matter in confidence to her superiors in October last year she claims news of her actions leaked out and her life thereafter was made a misery and she ended up on sick leave herself taking anti-depressants.

Although she is still employed on half-pay in the force's training department at Ecclesfield police station she is claiming compensation for the detriment she has suffered under new protected disclosure legislation.

South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable Med Hughes has encouraged officers to report matters concerning professional standards. But Pc Hunt-Brown told the Sheffield tribunal the consequences of whistle-blowing had left her ill.

She was left off every colleague's Christmas card list, not told about an office reunion and had to listen to officers talking about "grasses" in her presence.

She told the hearing: "I was concerned that Sgt Moran was informing South Yorkshire Police he was unable to perform his duties due to sickness yet without notifying them he was undertaking paid employment."

After discussing the matter with her husband Craig, also a serving policeman, she reported the sergeant. It soon became obvious that other colleagues knew what she had done.

It even became clear Sgt Moran had been told Pc Hunt-Brown was the source of the complaint. The sergeant had been contacting colleagues to tell them she was a whistle-blower.

She felt "exposed and vulnerable". By mid-November she was told not to go to work by the force's occupational health department and her own GP diagnosed her with anxiety and depression.

She said: "It was as though the force was condoning the activities of Sgt Moran."

The hearing continues.