Former Justice Minister Judith Collins has been blindsided by Prime Minister John Key's decision to deny her the use of the title "Honourable" while an inquiry into her role in allegedly undermining former Serious Fraud boss Adam Feeley is investigated.
The title is awarded to former Ministers, senior judges and some serving Ministers by the Governor General, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, in recognition of their services, but in the most recent update of the "Roll of the Honourables", Ms Collins was left off.
Ms Collins resigned her ministerial portfolios in dramatic fashion in the lead up to last month's election after an email emerged which appeared to link her to efforts to undermine Mr Feeley.
Prime Minister John Key initiated a Government inquiry into the matter.
A spokesman for Mr Key this afternoon said: "It's the Prime Minister's intention, should Ms Collins be cleared in the current inquiry, to recommend to the Governor General that she be granted the use of the title "The Honourable" for life."
"I didn't know about this until contacted by media this afternoon" Ms Collins told the Herald.
"I was surprised. I await the outcome of the Inquiry and remain steadfast in my statements," she said.
"I haven't done anything wrong and I'm very surprised because I continue to stand by everything I said. So I am deeply surprised. But I'm even more surprised not to have had anyone speak to me about it."
"I am surprised but it's not up to me. It's up to John [Key]. It's his decision. I've spoken to [the Prime Minister's chief of staff] Wayne Eagleson and told him I'm very annoyed and disappointed to have found out via the media."
"I await the outcome of the Inquiry and remain steadfast in my statements," she said.
The recently updated Roll of the Honourables shows former Courts Minister Chester Borrows who lost his portfolio in Mr Key's post-election Cabinet reshuffle was granted the title on October 8 as was departing Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples, and Whanau Ora minister Tariana Turia.
The list of former ministers who have the title includes some who left under a cloud such as former National Government Justice Minister Richard Worth who resigned and former Labour Minister Dover Samuels who was sacked, both following allegations of sexual impropriety.