Ex-Melbourne lord mayor Doyle apologises

Former Melbourne lord mayor Robert Doyle has apologised, saying there is a 'darkness' in his soul.
Former Melbourne lord mayor Robert Doyle has apologised, saying there is a 'darkness' in his soul.

Disgraced former Melbourne lord mayor Robert Doyle has apologised for his behaviour towards women, saying there is a "darkness" in his soul.

The former Victorian opposition leader blamed arrogance, self-importance and alcohol for his actions, calling it "ugly, ugly stuff".

"I apologise, unreservedly, without qualification. I am sorry," he said on Monday in a 3AW interview.

Two months ago, the final report from an investigation found sexual misconduct allegations against Robert Doyle when he was chair of Melbourne Health were true.

Mr Doyle did not participate in the investigation, providing evidence that he had not been medically fit to be questioned.

He quit the post and his role as chairman of Melbourne Health after the allegations came to light.

He also stepped down from his position as lord mayor of the City of Melbourne in February 2018 after separate allegations of sexual harassment.

Victoria Police confirmed in June 2020 that a sexual crimes investigation into Mr Doyle had been completed and no charges would be laid.

Monday was the first time Mr Doyle had spoken publicly about the allegations.

Asked why he had taken so long to comment, he denied he had hidden behind mental health issues.

"I couldn't have done it before now," he said.

"I look back, I see arrogance, I see self-importance, I see the inability to see how your behaviours are affecting somebody else - ugly, ugly stuff."

Mr Doyle said his poor behaviour went back to when he was a teacher, before he was in public office.

"That arrogance and self-importance goes back a long way ... I have no doubt I've hurt people I don't even know about and that's an awful thought," he said.

He added alcohol had been part of the problem with his latest misbehaviour and he had sought help.

"Alcohol is not an excuse for a lack of respect and a lack of appropriate behaviour - I fully accept that," he said.

In the interview, Mr Doyle was asked about the investigations into his behaviour.

"I'm not here to try to justify them or argue against them or excuse myself," he said.

Mr Doyle tearfully apologised to his family, saying he had hurt them as well.

Asked if his life had been in danger because of the state of his health, he said "yes", but hopes that is not the case now.

He also said he did not seek forgiveness.

"I don't think our interview will change anybody's mind and that wasn't my object in doing it - I think people made up their minds a long time ago about Robert Doyle," he said.

"It makes you reflect on your own soul, it makes you reflect on the darkness that is there and that is the ugly side of you," he said.

"No-one likes to think ill of themselves or the worst of themselves, but when you're confronted with it, what can you do? "

The investigation run by Charles Scerri QC was established in 2018 by the Department of Health and Human Services after claims from a woman that Mr Doyle, while he was chair of Melbourne Health, groped her and made "sleazy" comments at an awards ceremony in 2016.

It found some of Mr Doyle's behaviour was "serious misconduct of a sexual nature".

Unable to engage Mr Doyle's response to the allegations, despite "extensive correspondence", Mr Scerri finalised the investigation and his report.

"Mr Scerri does not accept that Mr Doyle's solicitors are unable to discuss the allegations with Mr Doyle and obtain any instructions from him," the summary said.

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Australian Associated Press