Foreign Minister Murray McCully sought legal advice on whether he could refuse an application for Richard Worth to become Monaco's consul to New Zealand, then delayed approving it for at least a year.

It was revealed yesterday that Dr Worth, a former National Party minister, was appointed Monaco's honorary consul to New Zealand in October last year - 16 months after he resigned from Parliament under a cloud of controversy amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

Prime Minister John Key was not told of the appointment; Mr McCully said yesterday that he did not consider it necessary to do so.

Dr Worth had held the Monaco position before becoming an MP.

The appointment requires the approval of the Foreign Minister and the Governor-General.

Mr McCully said Monaco's decision to appoint Dr Worth again was made months after he had resigned from Parliament.

The minister sought legal advice on whether he had to approve it, but was told Monaco decided who held its diplomatic positions.

"Legal advice from the Ministry [of Foreign Affairs and Trade] was that we had no capacity to influence the decision. The only thing we can do to object is if there are strong foreign policy grounds to do so, and there were none."

Instead, he delayed approving it for at least a year, until last October.

"I thought it would be inappropriate to proceed too early in the process, having had a departure from the ministry and Parliament that was unusual in character. So I sat on it ... to let the dust settle."

By October, Dr Worth had been out of Parliament "for what I think was probably about the right time to allow it to proceed".

Mr McCully said he had not discussed the matter with Dr Worth. He also defended his decision not to tell Mr Key, who was blindsided when asked about it by a Sunday newspaper.

He said it was a minor matter which he did not believe required the Prime Minister's attention.

Dr Worth was never charged by the police and a complaint against him was later dropped. His resignation followed allegations by a Korean businesswoman and by Labour Party member Neelam Choudary.

Mr Key made it clear he would have sacked Dr Worth had he not resigned, saying what he knew of his minister's behaviour meant he was not suited to remain in the Executive.

The position of honorary consul is usually unpaid, apart from reimbursement for basic costs. But it does allow for high-level contacts with the other country involved.

Dr Worth was at the wedding of Monaco's ruler, Prince Albert, and Charlene Wittstock this month.

He has kept a low profile since his resignation. His entry on the LinkedIn business network website lists him as a mediation and arbitration lawyer and company director. He is involved in companies promoting business between India and New Zealand.