Disgraced MP Andrew Falloon has quit Parliament – effective immediately – after his boss Judith Collins called for his resignation this morning and allegations of more sexually explicit messages were revealed.
Collins was scathing of Falloon on Newstalk ZB this morning, saying that the explanation he offered up in his defence in the case of the first young woman was "clearly a lie" and she had "lost all confidence" in him.
National spokesman has confirmed the party has received another complaint about now ex-MP Andrew Falloon.
This is in addition to the complaint the party received last week, which made headlines yesterday.
"Based on the apparent pattern of behaviour, Judith Collins expects there will be more to follow.
A third woman has also alleged she was sent a sexually explicit message from Falloon, Stuff reports.
It is understood the now-former Rangitata MP's versions of events is that he was at a party several weeks ago and briefly left his phone unattended at a party — and acquaintances then used it to send the sexual image in question.
Collins told ZB she did not believe this.
"This has gone from clearly what was stated as a mistake, to now being something quite different."
Just moments before she went to air on Newstalk ZB, she said she had received an email from Falloon – also addressed to Speaker Trevor Mallard – advising the pair of his resignation.
He announced yesterday he was quitting politics at the election, which would have meant he would have been paid until then.
Collins told ZB she could "no longer trust his story".
"I believe better for him, better for the young woman who is my first priority, and for Parliament, that he resigns."
Falloon's email this morning came after "fresh allegations" that another sexually inappropriate message had been sent to a young woman.
The woman at the centre of this latest claim is not a teenager and did not get her parents involved, unlike the first case.
The National leader said when she spoke to Falloon yesterday, he did not disclose any other instances which occurred, beyond the one which made headlines last night.
She called on anyone who might have received similar messages from Falloon to come forward and "we will take action".
Collins said this was "absolutely out of the blue".
"Although it now appears that some people were aware that he abused alcohol."
She had "never seen that because I was too busy doing my work".
But the issue of heavy drinking among MPs would be raised this morning in caucus, she said.
Speaking to media this morning, NZ First leader Winston Peters said what was going on within National at the moment was "chaos".
He said the party can't claim to have a united team when it's had four leaders in three years.
Collins said over the weekend that National was a "strong team".
But Peters challenged her on this statement.
"You cannot walk out of a circumstance like that and say 'we've got a united team' and within 24 hours of [Collins] making that statement, another one has bitten the dust, sad to say."
Asked about Parliament's drinking culture, Peters said politics has changed "dramatically changed on that score since years ago – and …has changed for the better".
On Falloon, he said it was an: "Aberrant set of behavioural statistic to do with one person".
He questioned why National press release was allowed to go out in the first place, given what Collins already knew.
"From a leadership point of view, the moment they heard that, they should have been on red alert."
Collins told Newstalk ZB she was initially concerned about Falloon's mental wellbeing and made sure he returned home safely. "But I'm now of the view he made the right decision this morning to resign from Parliament," she said.
She had written to the first woman who received the inappropriate sex image, giving her an undertaking her privacy would be protected and if anything leaked out, that person would be sacked.
She sought a similar undertaking from the Prime Minister's office. The PM's office said it had acted appropriately and nothing had been leaked from its office.
Collins said that the story that someone grabbed Falloon's phone during a party and sent the material to the first young woman was "clearly a lie".
Despite the salacious nature of the scandal she did not think it damaged her own reputation. She said she would not tolerate this level of behaviour from National Party politicians.
In her earlier round of media calls - between 6.30am and 7.30am - Collins said she wanted Falloon out of Parliament immediately after a pornographic image was sent to a young woman from his cellphone, and that she "can no longer trust his story".
Allegations started to then emerge of the new sexually explicit text messages, allegedly sent by the MP, to a second woman.
"I have heard this morning from media that there is likely to be other instances, and I would like anybody who wants to, to come forward directly to me or to my office," Collins told TVNZ.
Collins told RNZ: "I can no longer trust his story. I believe that that would be the best thing for him ultimately. He is clearly now with his family and receiving professional assistance. It is I believe better for him, better for the young woman who is my first priority, and for Parliament, that he resigns.
"It was clear to me yesterday that he was admitting what was being alleged, what had been alleged by the young woman.
"I have not seen the image in question. My first priority yesterday was the young woman who is now dealing with the terrible trauma and I've reached out to her and made it very clear that if there's any assistance I can give I will do so."
Collins said the image was of a pornographic nature and not of a male.
A top party source told the Herald that Falloon's explanations were "not consistent" as they continued to change.
This has "raised further alarm bells among the party's leadership and senior staff".
Falloon announced his resignation from Parliament at the election yesterday afternoon – he said he had made "a number of mistakes".
He said he recently lost a friend to suicide and he had "unresolved grief".
"Recent events have compounded that situation and reminded me of the need to maintain my own health and wellbeing. I have again been receiving counselling."
But, soon after his statement, it was revealed a pornographic image was sent from his phone, to a young woman.
• National MP Andrew Falloon quits after sending sexual image to female university student
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• Barry Soper: Judith Collins had a chance to act swiftly with Andrew Falloon scandal - she didn't
• National MP Andrew Falloon quits amid 'significant mental health issues'
The recipient was a young woman attending university and her parents alerted the Prime Minister's office to the incident.
Jacinda Ardern's chief of staff, with permission, notified National Party leader Judith Collins' office on Friday.
Police confirmed last night that an investigation began after receiving a report of an individual sending an "unsolicited image".
Collins said she first found out about the issue on Saturday – her chief of staff found out the night before, after being told by the Prime Minister's office.
She met with Falloon yesterday morning, where he told her he had significant mental health issues.
Collins told MediaWorks she had reached out to the young woman, who received the indecent material, yesterday to offer her "sympathy" and "condemnation" of what had happened to her.
She also gave the young woman her mobile phone number and email in case she wanted to discuss any other issues.
"This is something that nobody should expect to receive – it was clear that this young woman only knew Andrew Falloon in a professional sense," Collins said.
"There is no reason at all that anybody would think that this was an appropriate communication."
Collins said Falloon had been "heavily drinking" on the night in question.
"It is very important that people understand that it is not acceptable to blame alcohol use, or anything else for this sort of behaviour," she told MediaWorks.
If fact, she said if drinking was an issue she would be raising with her MPs.
"The culture that some have adopted over the years – obviously Andrew Falloon is one of those – we are a professional body, we need to act professionally."
Falloon becomes the third National MP to quit since Collins was appointed leader last week. Nikki Kaye and Amy Adams are also going.
NATS HEADING TO THE EXIT DOOR
• Andrew Falloon — Rangitata: First-term electorate MP for the electorate centred on Ashburton. Previously worked for Act leader Rodney Hide, ministerial adviser to Steven Joyce. Was National's spokesman for biosecurity, associate agriculture, associate economic development, and associate transport. Announced retirement yesterday after sending sexual image to a young woman.
• Nikki Kaye — Auckland Central: Elected in 2008 in the traditional Labour seat. Minister of Education, ACC, Civil Defence, Food Safety, Youth, Youth Affairs. In September 2016, stepped down as a minister to fight breast cancer, then returned. Deputy leader to Todd Muller from May 2020. Lost it when he resigned on July 14, announced retirement July 16.
• Amy Adams — Selwyn: Elected in 2008, Minister for Social Investment, Social Housing, Justice, Internal Affairs, Housing, Environment, Courts, Communications and Information Technology, Communications and Broadcasting. Lost leadership bid to Simon Bridges in February 2018 but became finance spokeswoman. Announced intention to retire in June 2019 but rescinded decision in May 2020 when Muller offered her Covid-19 policy co-ordinator. Re-announced retirement on July 16.
• Jian Yang — List: First entered Parliament in 2011 and a list MP since. Admitted during 2017 election campaign to a former role teaching English at a Chinese spy college. Apart from one press conference, refused media requests. Announced retirement on July 10.
• Hamish Walker — Clutha-Southland: First elected in 2017 and was forced to announce his retirement on July 8 after admitting to passing on lists of Covid-19 patients acquired from former party president Michelle Boag to several news outlets.
• Paula Bennett — Upper Harbour: Elected in 2005 as a list MP, Deputy Prime Minister under Bill English. Minister of Climate Change Issues, Disability Issues, Local Government, Police, Social Development, Social Housing, State Services, Tourism, Women and Youth Affairs. Deputy leader under Simon Bridges from 2018 until the Todd Muller leadership coup in May 2020. Announced retirement on June 29, before Muller resigned.
• Anne Tolley — East Coast: Elected in 1999 as a list MP for one term. Returned in 2005 as East Coast MP, a seat she has held since. Minister for Children, Corrections, Education, Education Review Office, Local Government, Police, Social Development and Tertiary Education. Announced retirement on June 27.
• Nicky Wagner — List: Entered Parliament in 2005, claimed the Labour stronghold of Christchurch Central for two terms, 2011- 2017. Has been a minister outside Cabinet, holding Customs, Disability Issues, Greater Christchurch Regeneration and Statistics. Announced retirement on February 11.
• Sarah Dowie — Invercargill: First elected in 2014. Spokeswoman for conservation. Revealed to have had an affair with former National MP Jami-lee Ross. Announced on February 11 she would retire - for reasons unrelated to Ross.
• David Carter — List: First elected in Selwyn in 1994 for two terms, a list MP since 1999. Became Minister for Primary Industries, Agriculture, Local Government, Forestry and Biosecurity. Speaker from 2013- 2017. Announced retirement on February 2.
• Maggie Barry — North Shore: The former broadcaster and gardening show host was elected in 2011. Was the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Seniors and Conservation. Announced retirement November 5.
• Nathan Guy — Ōtaki: First elected in 2005, Minister of Veterans' Affairs, Racing, Primary Industries, National Library, Internal Affairs, Immigration, Civil Defence, and Archives. Announced retirement in July 2019.
• Alastair Scott — Wairarapa: First elected to Parliament in 2014. Announced plans to retire in June 2019.