The national figure who has appeared in court accused of indecently assaulting a 13-year-old girl can be revealed as a former MP.

The man, who has interim name suppression to protect the girl's identity, was remanded on bail without plea during a brief appearance in Nelson District Court on Thursday.

He is charged with indecently assaulting a girl aged between 12 and 16.

His bail conditions include living at an address away from his home town, avoiding contact with his partner and the alleged victim, and not possessing or obtaining firearms.

The man, his partner and the girl's father were reluctant to comment yesterday.

Asked whether the situation was heinous, his partner said: "Yes, there are some tough things going on, but weird things happen in life you know."

The leader of a party which the MP represented in Parliament said the allegations came as a "shock".

"Anything like this has to go to court and be proven and the law has to take its course and we won't be doing anything to intervene."

A friend of the defendant said he was a "thoroughly decent bloke".

"He is a good-humoured, hard-working guy, that is my experience."

And he said it was too early to say if he would support him.

"That's a very difficult question - the guy is presumed innocent until proven guilty. He will go through the process. This is extraordinarily difficult. You can't come out of this one smelling like roses ... no matter what happens."

- HERALD ON SUNDAY