A GROUP of police officers who allegedly shared offensive messages over WhatsApp have lost a battle to stop bosses raising disciplinary proceedings against them.

The 10 Police Scotland officers claimed their rights to privacy were being breached after superiors wanted to reprimand them over texts sent over the mobile phone messaging service.

The officers allegedly shared offensive messages among private messaging groups which they were members of. One of the messages is said to have contained Anti-Semitic content.

The police officers instructed lawyers to go to the Court of Session in Edinburgh to seek a legal order which would prevent their superiors from starting discipline procedures against them.

They lost their initial legal battle after judge Lord Bannatyne ruled against them.

He concluded the alleged content of the messages could undermine the perception among members of the public that the police were unbiased and respectful of differences of race, religion and sexuality.

The judge also said that police officers agree to a set of standards upon joining the service which bind them to acting fairly and that these alleged messages arguably contravened the guidelines dictating how police officers act.

This prompted the police officers to appeal to the Inner House of the Court of Session. On Wednesday, civil appeal judges Lady Dorrian, Lord Menzies and Lord Malcolm upheld the previous decision.

In a written judgment issued at the court, Lady Dorrian wrote: “I consider that the reclaiming motion must be refused.”

In his judgement from 2019, Lord Bannatyne did not discuss the exact content of the messages. The officers cannot be identified for legal reasons.

However, at an earlier hearing, the court heard how one of the groups was called Quality Polis. One of the images allegedly found on the group was a picture of Hitler with the caption “I said a glass of juice not gas the Jews”.

In the judgment issued on Wednesday, Lady Dorrian wrote: “The Lord Ordinary considered that a reasonable person having regard to the content of the messages would be entitled to reach the conclusion that they were sexist and degrading, racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, mocking of disability and included a flagrant disregard for police procedures by posting crime scene photos of current investigations.

“The messages also included pictures of a police shift pattern, and a police bulletin.”

The messages came to light when detectives were investigating fellow Police Scotland officer Jordan Walker,24, over alleged sex offences.

PC Walker was later cleared of any wrong doing but detectives passed on the messages to colleagues working for the force’s professional standards team.

The professional standards team wanted to launch disciplinary proceedings against the men.

But the officers stopped the proceedings saying their right to privacy were at threat of being breached.

Lawyers for the officers went to the Court of Session to argue that because the messages were contained within a private group, the officers were entitled to be protected under article eight of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The lawyers argued that article eight meant that the messages couldn’t be used against them.

However, lawyers for the police argued that the officers didn’t enjoy protection under article eight of the ECHR. They argued that the messages may contain content which would affect their ability to discharge their duties as police officers.

Lord Bannatyne ruled in favour of Police Scotland.

He wrote: “In conclusion, drawing together all the various strands of the argument and having regard to all the circumstances, I conclude that the petitioners had no reasonable expectation of privacy in respect of the messages. "

“In summary that they had no such expectation of privacy arises from their holding the position of police officers.”

Lady Dorrian and her two colleagues concluded that Lord Bannatyne didn’t misinterpret the law.

Lord Menzies wrote: “I am of the view that the respondents’ proposed use of the messages does not breach the petitioners’ article 8 rights.

“It follows that I agree that the reclaiming motion should be refused.”