City of Melbourne has defended the investigation into allegations of sexual harassment by former Lord Mayor Robert Doyle.
Mr Doyle, 64, resigned on Sunday as his lawyers revealed he would also be hospitalised to recover from the toll the investigation took on his health.
City of Melbourne chief executive Ben Rimmer defended the process, as allies of Mr Doyle slammed the investigation as unfair and lacking natural justice.
“The investigation process commenced and was undertaken from a presumption of innocence, as it should,” Mr Rimmer said in a statement issued on Monday.
“The whole purpose of the investigation is to ascertain the facts of the allegations. I cannot control the behaviour of the parties or of the media.”
Mr Doyle’s wife, Emma Page Campbell, earlier claimed “the allegations have been made in an environment in which guilt is presumed over innocence, and where there is little regard for the irreversible damage that can cause to reputation, character and legacy”.
Former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett also defended Mr Doyle on Melbourne radio station 3AW on Monday.
“I do feel he has been terribly treated,” Mr Kennett said.
“Now please don’t get me wrong, I do not support inappropriate behaviour in any shape or form … but we don’t know the findings and I do feel as though his case has been very much prejudged.
“Every time his name was mentioned, they reported every claim against him, and for us the public, without knowing the findings, we have lost a very successful Lord Mayor and a very good administrator.”
Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle has resigned following a drawn-out investigation into allegations of sexual harassment.
K&L Gates lawyer Nick Ruskin said his client would be hospitalised immediately to recover from the toll the investigation took on his health.
Mr Doyle again denied allegations of sexual misconduct in a statement on Sunday night. He also stood down from his role as chair of Melbourne Health.
Wife Emma Page Campbell said Mr Doyle needed “time to heal, physically and mentally”.
“I have watched one of the strongest men I know brought to the brink of being broken,” she said in a statement released through a publicist hired by Mr Doyle.
A City of Melbourne spokesperson told The New Daily the council was yet to receive notification of the Lord Mayor’s resignation on Sunday night.
The spokesperson later said the council understood, via Mr Doyle’s lawyers, the formalities of his resignation would be shortly completed.
“We will progress the conclusion of the investigation as quickly as possible and ensure the facts become known to all parties.”
Ms Campbell said she was “enormously proud” of his achievements and said she would continue to stand by her husband.
He is a good and decent man. I love him. And because I love him, to watch and share what he has been through in the last seven weeks has been agony.”
She claimed Mr Doyle had not been afforded the presumption of innocence or any of the “protections afforded to even to those accused of the most horrible crimes”.
“These allegations have been made in an environment in which guilt is presumed over innocence, and where there is little regard for the irreversible damage that can cause to reputation, character and legacy,” she said.
“It would seem that the court of public opinion, and what it will deem acceptable, can win out over natural justice.
“I know my husband. I know his intentions, his character, his language, his manner. None of the allegations against him accord with the man I know.”
Ms Campbell thanked the family’s supporters and asked for privacy.
Mr Ruskin said the toll the investigation had taken on his client’s health “cannot be underestimated”.
“He has been through a period which he feels has lacked any semblance of natural justice, where the burden of proof does not rest with proving guilt, but rather with proving innocence.
“On medical advice he will need an immediate period of hospitalisation to begin his recovery. Advice is that this may be a lengthy process,” Mr Ruskin said.
Mr Doyle took leave in December last year when the first of four women, Councillor Tessa Sullivan, levelled allegations against him.
He’d reportedly been given 72 hours to respond to an independent investigation by Ian Freckelton QC last week, before a final report was delayed on Friday because of Mr Doyle’s ill health.