City of Melbourne CEO Ben Rimmer sent an email to all councillors.
City of Melbourne CEO Ben Rimmer sent an email to all councillors.

Lord Mayor steps down amid complaints of sexual harassment

MELBOURNE Lord Mayor Robert Doyle has announced he will take leave over allegations of sexual harassment and indecent assault levelled against him.

Cr Doyle said the specifics of the allegations had not been provided to him.

But Council chief executive Ben Rimmer said serious allegations including sexual harassment, indecent assault and misconduct had been made against Cr Doyle.

It comes as Councillor Tessa Sullivan, quit on Friday amid sexual harassment allegations involving a male senior member of council.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle.
Lord Mayor Robert Doyle.

Cr Doyle said he was informed of allegations levelled against him today:

"Late this morning I was officially informed that allegations have been levelled against me and an investigation will take place.

"The specifics of those allegations have not been provided to me.

"I welcome the investigation and will co-operate fully to clear my name.

"I am shocked. I have not been official informed of the specifics but find the allegations detailed to me by media outlets thoroughly abhorrent, not only as Lord Mayor but as a father of young women, a husband, a brother and as the head of an office made up entirely of women.

"I am frustrated that I have not been formally provided the specific allegations which have been strategically released to media, which is a denial of natural justice and clearly damaging to my reputation. This is an incredibly distressing time for me and my family.

"I have decided to take leave for one month, while the investigation takes place and am being legally represented in this matter.

"My decision to take leave must not be interrupted as any concession or admission.

"What is important now is that proper process be allowed to take place and that the rights of all involved are respectfully handled."

Melbourne City Council CEO Ben Rimmer. Picture: Kris Reichl
Melbourne City Council CEO Ben Rimmer. Picture: Kris Reichl

Melbourne City Council confirmed that serious allegations including sexual harassment, indecent assault and misconduct had been levelled against Cr Doyle.

Council chief executive Ben Rimmer said he had informed the Lord Mayor that allegations had been made against him and there would be an external investigation - lead by experienced QC Ian Freckleton - into the complaints.

"Pending the outcome of this investigation, I will determine what further action, if any, is required and available to me," Mr Rimmer said in a statement this afternoon.

"The investigation will be conducted in accordance with natural justice principles.

"These allegations are very serious, and if proven would be inconsistent with the values of the city and the organisation. Therefore it is very important that these matters are thoroughly investigated."

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle swears in Cr Tessa Sullivan at a ceremony at Melbourne Town Hall in 2016. Picture: Andrew Henshaw
Lord Mayor Robert Doyle swears in Cr Tessa Sullivan at a ceremony at Melbourne Town Hall in 2016. Picture: Andrew Henshaw

An email sent to all councillors by Mr Rimmer says "I am writing to inform you that Tessa Sullivan resigned as a Councillor on Friday night, effective immediately."

"I will advise the Minister for Local Government and the Victorian Electoral Commissioner early next week.''

Ms Sullivan was elected to council in November 2016.

Tessa Sullivan has resigned as a Councillor. Picture: Andrew Henshaw
Tessa Sullivan has resigned as a Councillor. Picture: Andrew Henshaw
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