Former Melbourne lord mayor Robert Doyle has “not been well enough” to clear his name.Former Melbourne lord mayor Robert Doyle is too sick to defend allegations he behaved inappropriately in his past role as Melbourne Health chairman.
It means the latest investigation into claims against the 64-year-old has produced an inconclusive result.
The Victorian government on Tuesday released a report by investigator Charles Scerri QC, who looked at claims Mr Doyle touched a woman’s thigh and made inappropriate comments at a Melbourne Health awards ceremony in 2016.
At the time Mr Doyle was both the organisation’s chairman and city lord mayor.
“Mr Scerri has no reason to doubt, and at present does not doubt, the veracity of the complainant,” a summary of the findings read.
“However, because of ill health, Mr Doyle has been unable to respond to the allegations.”
The Melbourne Health allegations are not related to an earlier probe ordered by the City of Melbourne, which substantiated claims by colleagues of sexual harassment and misconduct by Mr Doyle.
Mr Doyle has repeatedly denied all claims against him.
His lawyer Nick Ruskin on Tuesday said Mr Doyle “has not been well enough to participate in the Melbourne Health investigation and has received no material from the investigator regarding the allegations”.
Mr Scerri also considered additional allegations against Mr Doyle by two women who declined to lodge formal complaints.
“I have not spoken to either person directly, but it seems that a concern about confidentiality was a factor that deterred them from making a complaint,” his report said.
The Scerri report comes the month after a City of Melbourne’s finding that Mr Doyle groped and tried to kiss two councillors after drinking “substantial amounts of red wine”.
The Ian Freckelton QC-led probe in March found the mayor grabbed then-councillor Tessa Sullivan’s breast when the pair were in a chauffer-driven mayoral car in May.
It also found Mr Doyle put his hand on councillor Cathy Oke’s thigh several times in 2014 and tried to kiss her following a meeting in either late 2016 or early 2017. Other allegations raised by the two councillors were not substantiated.
Mr Scerri found there was scope to improve the process for making complaints at Melbourne Health.
“A complaint concerning the chair was unprecedented. There was obvious awkwardness in the complaint being investigated by members of management, since management is appointed by the board, and reports to the board,” he wrote.
Mr Scerri proposed future complaints against board members be dealt with independently.
The Victorian government used to the Scerri findings to pledge $400,000 to help stamp out sexual harassment at hospitals.
Health Minister Jill Hennessy said two independent investigators would be appointed on a trial basis to take complaints from health workers.
Mr Doyle resigned as mayor and as Melbourne Health chairman in February, when he was hospitalised for stress-related conditions.
A new Melbourne lord mayor is due to be elected in May.
Australian Associated Press