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May 6, 2021

Melbourne mayor quits amid sex allegations

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Melbourne will elect a new lord mayor after Robert Doyle quit amid allegations he sexually harassed and indecently assaulted women.

Mr Doyle resigned on Sunday night after being admitted to hospital “on the brink of being broken”, according to his wife Emma Page Campbell.

He has also quit as chairman of Melbourne Health.

Mr Doyle continues to strenuously deny the allegations against him.

“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,” Ms Page Campbell said in a statement.

“I am disappointed that Robert has been given no benefit of the presumption of innocence – a resort to foregone conclusions, and with none of the protections afforded even to those accused of the most horrible crimes.”

In December, Mr Doyle, 64, was hit by claims of sexual harassment, indecent assault and misconduct, and stepped aside as mayor while Ian Freckleton QC launched an investigation.

Melbourne councillor Tessa Sullivan quit over alleged inappropriate behaviour by Mr Doyle towards her and another woman.

A third woman later claimed Mr Doyle touched her leg under a table and made offensive remarks to her at a Melbourne Health awards ceremony in 2016.

Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy ordered a separate independent investigation into those allegations.
Mr Doyle on Friday revealed he was suffering from stress-related “serious ill health”.

K&L Gates partner Nick Ruskin said the toll the allegations had taken on his client “cannot be underestimated”.

“Following allegations seven weeks ago, 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,” Mr Ruskin said.

The City of Melbourne learned of Mr Doyle’s resignation from media reports.

“We will progress the conclusion of the investigation as quickly as possible and ensure the facts become known to all parties,” it said.

Councillors will discuss the Freckleton investigation at a meeting on Tuesday.

The Victorian government acknowledged Mr Doyle’s resignation but was unable to comment further while investigations were ongoing.

It said the election for a new mayor would be held at the earliest possible opportunity.


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