Ex-minister cleared of Feeley allegation is content to do job

The mug on Judith Collins' desk has "best female in a leading role" written on it. The woman who drinks from it claims she has lost all appetite for that leading role after the troubles of the year just gone.

Yesterday Collins was in her office beginning the arduous process of re-building her public image after the inquiry cleared her of working with blogger Cameron Slater to try to undermine former SFO head Adam Feeley. She lost her ministerial job over Slater's claim in an email that she was "gunning for" Feeley.

Slater told the inquiry he had drawn the conclusion Collins was "gunning for" Adam Feeley because of Collins' tone rather than specific statements. "She can be imperious," he said. In return Collins said Mr Slater was simply big-talking "and he's using my name to do it".

She says she remains family friends with the Slaters although Mr Slater had made "some very serious mistakes" and "I have to say I have felt very let down".

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She says her communications with him were "very mild".

"You ... don't stop being a human being when you come into Parliament. But I was very careful not to breach those lines around ministerial responsibility in a personal friendship."

As well as losing that ministerial job, she also lost all hope of ever leading the National Party. She says now she doesn't want the job: "It's a rotten job."

Prime Minister John Key has restored the 'Honourable' title bestowed upon former ministers but said any return as a minister would depend on a space opening up and Collins "earning her way back into Cabinet". She won't put a timeline on how long she is prepared to wait to be welcomed back. Asked if she is indisposed to sitting quietly on the back benches, she says she has done it before. When someone addressed her as "minister" out of habit, she replied "it's Judith, thanks".

If her old motto was the vengeful "give back double" her new motto appears to be "don't worry, be happy".

The sometimes trigger-happy litigant is unlikely to take any further action over claims made about her in the media and Nicky Hager's Dirty Politics book, saying while some were potentially defamatory "I don't think it's worth it".

She seems content and calmer. She is happy to be the MP for Papakura and is managing to fit in exercise - enough to have lost about 8kg. After the interview there is discussion about the bullet-hole ridden target practice silhouettes behind her door. When it is observed she is a good shot, she replies "of course I am".