Woman loses AFP job over database digs

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Altered security clearance of emails.

A former police officer that sought information on her ex-husband's finances from Australian Federal Police databases has failed to overturn her dismissal from the force.

The woman - who joined the AFP in June 2005 as a finance analyst before being promoted to an investigations role - had been embroiled in legal action over her divorce from Mr B, according to a Fair Work Australia decision.

She "believed Mr B to be a person who evaded paying both an appropriate level of child support and taxation", and discussed her views "on a number of occasions" with a colleague.

Twice in early 2007, the woman received emails relating to her ex-husband from the colleague, which she forwarded externally to her mother - also a party in the family law proceedings.

On both occasions, she altered the security clearance of the emails from "in confidence" to "personal", in breach of information handling and secrecy policies she had signed when starting work at the AFP.

After receiving the first email from the colleague, the woman responded: "It's a start... thanX!"

The second email she received from the colleague contained information from the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) database.

AUSTRAC monitors for suspicious financial transactions or activities.

The woman wrote back to her colleague: "Most of it I was aware of, but the AUSTRAC find is GOLD as well as a few add'l Companies (as Director) I wasn't. Thanks Again !"

She conceded she was aware that the AUSTRAC data was confidential and "that she should not have been seeing it", according to Fair Work Australia.

Her initial attempt to send that email to her mother was caught by the AFP's IT security team after she tried to forward the email without altering the security classification. IT security issued a warning that the email "will NOT be released".

"Contrary to the warning she changed the security classification to 'personal'," Fair Work Australia's decision noted.

The woman also conceded that she accessed another database called MASCOT "to conduct searches of companies associated with Mr B. She said these searches would be available to any member of the public," according to the decision.

In May 2009, the woman's ex-husband and a private investigator complained to the AFP, alleging that the woman had "illegally obtained information concerning [him] and had used it in Family Court and Child Support Agency proceedings".

Following an internal investigation by AFP professional standards, the woman was dismissed in March 2011. Fair Work Australia upheld the dismissal in a decision handed down last week.

The woman's identity was suppressed after the AFP did not oppose an application to do so.

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