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'Malice' ends Butler's royal role

From Grant Holloway, CNN Sydney

Butler was Australia's best-paid vice-regal representative.
Richard Butler

HOBART, Tasmania (CNN) -- Former U.N. chief weapons inspector Richard Butler has resigned as governor of the Australian State of Tasmania after a brief and stormy tenure.

Butler, a republican, stepped down on Monday night having served just 10 months in the largely ceremonial post as the representative of the British monarchy in the island state.

The 62-year-old former diplomat released a statement to media saying his decision was prompted by a "malicious campaign against him" which would continue and would damage the good name of Tasmania if he stayed on in the role.

"It is with great sadness that I take this decision," Butler said. "I have always acted with the best interests of the state at heart and, consistent with that, I felt bound to make this decision."

Butler's time as Tasmania's governor has been mired in controversy since his contentious appointment on October 3 last year.

This culminated in the resignation last week of three of his senior aides -- allegedly over concerns about Butler's handling of the job.

Butler attracted criticism from monarchists and republicans alike for accepting the governor's post, a situation exacerbated by his making overtly "political" speeches, including one in March which described the United States as being "highly nationalistic and self-centered".

Tasmania's state premier Michael Lennon said Monday Butler had dealt with a difficult situation "with honor" and that the decision had been "courageous and statesman-like".

The vice-regal post in Tasmania -- Australia's smallest and least-populated of the six States -- is the highest paid, attracting an annual salary of more than Aust. $370,000 ($262,000) and includes residence in a $12 million sandstone mansion.

Butler's resignation is the second vice-regal crisis in Australian in recent times.

Australian Governor-General Peter Hollingsworth -- a former Anglican archbishop --stepped down in May last year after ongoing criticism of his handling of sexual abuse cases while he was a church leader.

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