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George Zisopoulos wins five-year legal battle to get police job back

A NSW police officer who claimed the force had a toxic culture of homophobia after he was sacked for taking recreational drugs has revealed what he’ll do next after a five-year legal battle.

Natalie O’Brien, Senior Reporter, News Corp Australia Network

Exclusive: A gay policeman who claimed he was the victim of a toxic culture of homophobia in NSW Police after he was sacked for allegedly taking recreational drugs has won a legal battle to get his job back.

The Full Bench of the Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal by the NSW Police Commissioner against the reinstatement of Sergeant George Zisopoulos.

The ruling brings to an end a five-year legal battle which, with a string of other related cases, has cost police more than $1.5 million.

It is second time the NSW Police have lost an appeal challenging a landmark legal decision that Mr Zisopoulos had been “unfairly” and “unjustly” sacked on the basis of a hair follicle drug test.

Mr Zisopoulos’ lawyer Nicole Dunn said there have now been two unsuccessful appeals by the Commissioner of Police and that should be the end of it.

“The matter should be considered finalised,” Ms Dunn told News Corp Australia.

“I always thought the Industrial Relations Commission got it right the first time when it found four years ago that research has shown police can be contaminated through their work environment,” she said.

“My client is very grateful to the court for the decision.”

Ms Dunn said Mr Zisopoulos now just wants to resume his “exemplary policing career”.

A spokeswoman for the New South Wales Police Force said they noted the decision in the NSW Court of Appeal.

“We are currently reviewing the judgment and not in a position to comment further at this time,” the spokeswoman said.

Mr Zisopoulos had an unblemished record and had been decorated with police medals for his good service when he became the first NSW officer sacked based on the results of a controversial hair follicle test.

He has been fighting his sacking ever since.

He has always vehemently denied voluntarily taking drugs, arguing the contamination came from his work environment.

He said he was in regular contact with illicit drugs and drug-affected offenders in his police role, and he had been exposed to drugs in a case just a week before he was selected for a random drug test at Newtown police station in April 2015.

He was one of five gay officers at Newtown police station who were targeted with false allegations and it was claimed in an internal complaint their “known promiscuity” and “loose morals” meant they were drug users.

Freedom of information requests have revealed that the cases in total have cost police $1.5 million.

The Industrial Relations Commission ordered Mr Zisopoulos’ reinstatement four years ago and effectively cleared him of the drug accusations, but the police appealed.

The IRC had found his termination “harsh, unreasonable and unjust”

The only avenue left to NSW Police is an appeal to the High Court.