National leader Judith Collins has suggested Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern knew former Minister Iain Lees-Galloway was having an affair before Collins shared information with her.
This morning, Collins told MediaWorks that when she passed on the information to Ardern, she did not know herself he was accused of an affair - but she accused the PM of knowing prior to their conversation.
"I didn't know anything about it, I think she probably did."
The Prime Minister's office pointed reporters back to Ardern's confirmation last week that she had not been aware of the rumours and allegations relating to Lees-Galloway.
When asked by media in Palmerston North this afternoon if she thought Ardern had lied, she said: "No I'm saying that I did not know. I simply said to her that I've had a message from someone, an email, saying that they had some information that is even worse than what has come out about our then-MP and I passed it to her and she asked me who it was about and I said, 'Ian Lees-Galloway'.
"I did not have the detail and I said I didn't want to receive the detail and I asked them to contact her office.
"And when I said 'It's Iain Lees-Galloway', she said 'Oh yes, right'."
When asked if the implication was that Ardern had "joined the dots because she already knew about the affair", Collins said: "I didn't know about the affair and I'm not interested in all the grubby details. It's not my business. She needs to front up with what she meant by 'an abuse of office' and frankly that's for her to answer. I'm not her minder and if I was, she would be much better at her job."
Pressed again, she said again: "She said to me 'Who is it?' And I said 'It's about Iain Lees-Galloway' and she said, 'Oh yes' and then she walked off. So we arranged for me to make sure that everything went to her.
"I didn't know about it until she outed him and she sacked him. That's her business, not mine. I've made my calls on our one."
Collins also told MediaWorks she would not have sacked Iain Lees-Galloway for having an affair.
"That's between him and his spouse".
Last week Wednesday, Ardern announced she had sacked Lees-Galloway from Cabinet and stripped him of his ministerial portfolios after he admitted to a year-long extramarital affair with a former staffer.
At Ardern's request, Ministerial Services is now going back over the use of public funds in Lees-Galloway's office to ensure none was used inappropriately.
A spokesperson for Ministerial Services confirmed that review, saying the majority of that data had already been reviewed as part of standard quarterly ministerial expenditure checks.
It is also possible there will be checks to ensure Lees-Galloway did not use his position to secure any roles, or to disadvantage or advantage the woman.
It is understood the woman now lives in the United Kingdom, and is no longer employed by any New Zealand government agency.
Lees-Galloway – who is married with three children – admitted he acted "completely inappropriately".
It comes after former National MP Andrew Falloon was caught out in an "enormous lie" with his sex-text scandal after telling his leader he only sent one explicit image to one woman once.
And he only came clean about sending porn to a teenager after he was confronted by Collins - despite being investigated by police.
Collins condemned Falloon, calling him "a liar" and saying it had become apparent his actions were a "pattern of behaviour" with three more women coming forward yesterday to say they'd also received explicit images.