Doyle victim feels 'vindicated' by report

March 14, 2018

An investigation has upheld sexual misconduct claims against ex-Melbourne lord mayor Robert Doyle.

Former Melbourne lord mayor Robert Doyle sexually harassed town hall colleagues after drinking "substantial amounts" of red wine, an independent investigation has found.

The report by Ian Freckelton QC for the City of Melbourne made four adverse findings against the long-serving mayor, backing claims made by former councillor Tessa Sullivan and councillor Cathy Oke.

Dr Freckelton's report concluded that Mr Doyle grabbed Ms Sullivan's breast in May when the pair were in a chauffer-driven mayoral car.

He also found Mr Doyle put his hand on Ms Oke's thigh several times in 2014 and attempted to kiss her in his office following a meeting in late 2016 or early 2017.

All incidents happened after Mr Doyle had consumed "substantial amounts of red wine", but other allegations raised by Ms Sullivan were not substantiated in Dr Freckelton's report.

An emotional Ms Oke told a special council meeting on Tuesday she "had a real fear" speaking out would "lead to a media smear or attack on my reputation".

Ms Sullivan, who resigned from council in December after lodging her claims, tweeted her relief that "the truth is out".

Mr Doyle stood down from the high-profile job when the allegations were aired, and continues to strenuously deny the claims after the report findings were made public.

Findings into allegations made by a third woman over Mr Doyle's behaviour at the 2016 Melbourne Health awards have been stood aside to give the ex-mayor more time to respond.

Council chief executive Ben Rimmer said the full report would not be released because it contained personal and health information provided on a voluntary and confidential basis.

The council is now reviewing its code of conduct, including drug and alcohol policies.

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