Robert Doyle investigation upholds allegations

Published: 14 March 2018

The Project Cathy Oke
The Project Cathy Oke
You're watching The Project Cathy Oke The 'Me Too' movement has made its way to Melbourne where claims made by two councillors have been upheld against former Lord Mayor Robert Doyle. Cathy Oke is one of the women at the centre and she joined us at the desk.

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The recent report has upheld claims made by Ms Sullivan and councillor Cathy Oke

Councillor Cathy Oke during a council meeting at Melbourne Town Hall 
Image © 2018 AAP/JAMES ROSS

The self-professed "woman who stopped a sexual predator" says she feels vindicated after an investigation upheld four allegations of misconduct against former Melbourne lord mayor Robert Doyle.

Former City of Melbourne Councillor Tessa Sullivan, the first woman to make a complaint about Mr Doyle's behaviour, says she is pleased with the outcome of the independent probe, conducted by Ian Freckelton QC for the council.

"It is a huge vindication after 11 weeks of waiting," she told ABC radio on Wednesday.

"Four findings of gross misconduct really display the vulgarity and the disgusting actions by Robert Doyle towards us."

The report upheld four adverse findings against the long-serving mayor, backing claims made by Ms 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.

"To outline grabbing a women's breast to the point of bruising is outrageous," Ms Sullivan said.

"To place your hands in between a woman's thighs near her groin, repeatedly and incessantly, is vile.

"To embrace someone and try to kiss them against their wishes is absolutely unwarranted, inappropriate behaviour."

Ms Sullivan changed her Twitter profile on Tuesday night to read "The Woman Who Stopped a Sexual Predator!", but said she has no plans to return to council.

Councillor Cathy Oke, who also complained of Mr Doyle's behaviour, said she wished she had the confidence to speak out sooner.

"The thing that makes me so sad and why it's very difficult for me to talk about, is because it's a very personal wrestle in my brain about why I didn't say something, or why I didn't speak up earlier," she told ABC radio.

"Even though I've been in local government politics for almost 10 years and I consider myself a very strong and intelligent woman, why is it that those power structures within politics stop someone even like me speaking out?"

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

Council chief executive Ben Rimmer says the full report won't be released because it contains 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.

A by-election will be held to elect a new Melbourne lord mayor on May 12.