News State Victoria News Investigation makes four findings against former Melbourne lord mayor

Investigation makes four findings against former Melbourne lord mayor

Former Melbourne lord mayor Robert Doyle. Photo: ABC
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An investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by the former lord mayor of Melbourne, Robert Doyle, has made four findings against him.

Councillor Cathy Oke and former councillor Tessa Sullivan accused Mr Doyle of sexually inappropriate behaviour.

Mr Doyle resigned from council in February, about six weeks after Ms Sullivan made allegations against him and resigned from her job.

He has publicly and repeatedly denied the accusations against him.

An independent investigation by Ian Freckleton QC found Mr Doyle deliberately placed his hand on Ms Sullivan’s breast while the lord mayor’s driver was taking them both home one night.

It also found he repeatedly put his hand in a sexually inappropriate manner on the thigh of Councillor Oke, and on another occasion tried to kiss her.

The investigation found Mr Doyle had consumed substantial amounts of red wine on each occasion.

The summary report found investigators were not sufficiently satisfied in relation to some other matters raised by Ms Sullivan, but did not detail what these were.

The full report will not be made public, but a summary report was given to councillors at a special meeting this afternoon.

It found the council was not a safe workplace for the two women involved, and Mr Doyle’s conduct could constitute sexual harassment and gross misconduct.

Council would have been forced to take action

The report identified a lack of a complaints process as a weakness, and called for a review of council policy allowing alcohol to be consumed at Tuesday night meetings.

The investigation was not a judicial process, and set a standard of proof lower than the criminal standard of being proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

In a statement, Melbourne City Council CEO Ben Rimmer said if Mr Doyle had not resigned it would undoubtedly have been necessary for the council to consider further action, based on the investigation’s findings.

A third woman also made allegations against Mr Doyle in his capacity as lord mayor while at a public event but that investigation has been suspended until he is able to respond.

Mr Doyle was hospitalised due to ill health, which delayed the investigation.

However the council said he attended a meeting with investigators to respond to the allegations and his lawyers made a 15- page submission.

An investigation into allegations against Mr Doyle in his role as chairman of Melbourne Health is continuing.