Colin Craig says he will not be seeking re-election as leader of the Conservative Party because it would be wrong to take on the role while he is being investigated by police.
The Conservative Party's newly elected board confirmed today it was looking to get back on track after a disastrous year by electing a new leader.
Mr Craig, the party's founder and main financial backer, said he would not be amongst the contenders.
He is facing a police complaint over his party's spending during the 2014 election, though no charges have been laid.
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"My feeling is that it is not right for me to put my name forward until the most serious allegations are cleared," he said.
If he was cleared before the 2017 election, he would consider returning to the party as a candidate, "if they will have me".
Mr Craig stepped down in June amid allegations that he had harassed his former press secretary Rachael MacGregor.
That prompted the board to collapse. It also led to a messy war of words between Mr Craig and former board member John Stringer, who made the complaint to police about the Conservatives' election spending.
Mr Craig and Mr Stringer are also suing each other for defamation. Mr Craig is also seeking defamation damages from blogger Cameron Slater and lawyer Jordan Williams in relation to their alleged role in in the collapse of the party earlier this year.
Board member Leighton Baker thanked Mr Craig for his leadership, saying the party's rise from nothing to 5th largest party in New Zealand was "largely due to Mr Craig's enthusiasm and support".