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Exclusive: Former police officer guilty of sexually assaulting female colleague after probe into toxic ‘boys’ club’

Scott Gallop outside Elgin Sheriff Court and, inset, on duty in 2008.
Scott Gallop outside Elgin Sheriff Court and, inset, on duty in 2008.

A police officer who was investigated as part of a probe into allegations of bullying and misogyny at a Moray police station has been found guilty of sexually assaulting one of his female colleagues.

Now-retired policeman Herbert Scott Gallop touched the woman on the bottom and other parts of her body, despite her telling him not to.

The sexual assault is the only prosecution and conviction to result from the 15-month  Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) probe into claims of a toxic culture at Forres police office.

PIRC’s confidential report – headed by lawyer Michelle Macleod at a cost of almost £250,000 – made allegations against seven police officers but the Crown Office ultimately determined there was insufficient evidence of criminality in relation to six of them.

Forres Police Station.

Elgin Sheriff Court was told how the 53-year-old – known as Scott Gallop – and the woman had become close friends when they were both signed off work at the same time.

However, his behaviour got too close to comfort for the younger woman and the court was told she addressed it with him in a series of text messages.

After he pulled her up for being “grumpy”, she texted back: “Well not touching bum and waist today and I might not be a grumpy bear” and further told him “if I’m honest I noticed it happening again. It’s highly frustrating when it happens after me saying.

“I don’t want to fall out or a big deal made. So now it’s out in the open I won’t be mean.”

His response was “Well, apologies for being in awe. I sometimes don’t realise what a c*** I’m being. I don’t think about others’ feelings.”

‘I find you attractive’

The court was told when the woman complained about his inappropriate touching Gallop wrote her a multiple-page apology letter in which he said he “loved her” and listed all her attributes.

Procurator fiscal Sharon Ralph suggested the apology letter was one of “love and affection” that showed he was “besotted” with the woman.

Gallop called the woman a “tough little cookie” who kept “focused and strong both physically and mentally”.

“Thank you, you are wonderful,” he signed it. “I love you. I am and if you will let me I will remain always your friend.”

Gallop disagreed with her suggestion it was a “romantic love” and denied having any sexual attraction to her.

But further extracts of the letter read stated: “I don’t think I have ever managed to hide or even try to the fact I find you attractive. You are gorgeous. I could name every part of you but the only thing they have in common is they are all beautiful.”

‘An Old Boys’ Club closing ranks’

The court was also told of Gallop’s involvement in the so-called ‘Boys’ Club’ at Forres Police Station, which was investigated at a cost of £247,000.

Male officers were said to have targeted a heavily pregnant officer and a female civilian worker by trapping them inside the station.

A further allegation of a serious sexual assault was also investigated.

The court heard how the victim of this case was once tricked into getting out of a police van in remote woods late at night before officers – including Gallop – drove off, leaving her stranded.

She said she had to walk in the dark through Roseisle woods, near Burghead, so she could be reunited with them.

Ms Ralph put it to Gallop that he, along with two other male officers, encouraged the woman to get out of the police van.

Roseisle woods. Supplied by Google Maps

The fiscal described the incident as “infantile” and suggested there was a better way for publicly-funded officers to spend their time than “joking around at the expense of the public purse”.

Gallop didn’t deny involvement but said: “It was a joke. We never left her. We only drove 10 to 15 metres away.”

Gallop claimed the woman later “laughed about it and said we should go on and do it to other people”.

He also said it was a “light-hearted moment” and that he and his fellow officers had watched the sun come up at Roseisle.

To Ms Ralph’s sarcastic suggestion that it sounded “lovely”, he replied: “It was.”

In her closing speech, the fiscal returned to the incident in the woods, saying: “The whole situation makes a suggestion of an “Old Boys’ Club” closing ranks, as it were.”

Said bum touch was a ‘pat goodbye’

Under questioning from defence agent John MacColl, Gallop admitted touching the woman on the bottom when she was getting into a car on an occasion in September 2017, but said it was innocent and simply “a pat goodbye”.

Gallop, a former rugby player, likened it to a “goodbye-style pat” players might exchange and later referred to it as an “on-your-way type thing”.

“Did she ever make you feel that you made her feel uncomfortable by being a bit touchy-feely?” Mr MacColl asked him.

“She said in her evidence she had made it clear to you that she didn’t want this physical contact.”

Gallop said “no”, but that “the first time she told me how uncomfortable it was it stopped and that when the letter was written.”

“I was mortified at the idea I had made her feel uncomfortable,” Gallop added.

‘The lie of that statement is in your letter’

Finding Gallop guilty of one amended charge of sexual assault and not guilty to a second, Sheriff Robert McDonald said he didn’t find his evidence “credible”.

He told him: “If we look at your apology letter, the tone of it is the tone of somebody that knows he had done wrong.

“In that letter, you admit you took liberties. You compare yourself to the ‘Me Too’-type things that have been in the media.

“I didn’t find your evidence credible and reliable, I’m afraid.

“You lied that you were attracted to her and the lie of that statement is in your letter.”

The sentencing of Gallop, of Kensal Green, Forres, was deferred for the preparation of background reports.

Scott Gallop is pictured outside Elgin Sheriff Court.

‘I hope this conviction brings some measure of comfort to his victim’

Reacting to the sentence, Chief Superintendent Catriona Henderson, head of the Professional Standards Department of Police Scotland, said: “We understand the courage it takes to report sexual assault and the additional challenges victims face when the offender is a police officer.

“Scott Gallop’s conduct fell far below the high standards of professional behaviour the public rightly expects of a police officer.

“There is no legal basis to prevent an officer from resigning or retiring. Had Scott Gallop remained a serving officer, these circumstances would now be considered for the purposes of gross misconduct.

“I hope this conviction brings some measure of comfort to his victim.

“In addition, the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner conducted an independent Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service-directed investigation and Police Scotland fully assisted with those enquiries.”

Sexist police ‘boys club’ members could still face prosecution if new evidence of criminality emerges

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