Judith Collins says she is angry and disappointed after being blindsided by Prime Minister John Key's decision to deny her a title routinely awarded to former ministers - learning of it from the media yesterday.
The former Justice Minister yesterday said she had just left a funeral when she was contacted by media and asked about the decision to withhold the title "The Honourable" from her - it was the first she knew of it.
The title is awarded to former ministers and some serving ministers by the Governor General, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, in recognition of their services. But in a post-election update of the Roll of the Honourables, Ms Collins' name was left off.
Ms Collins resigned her ministerial portfolios in the leadup to last month's election after an email emerged which appeared to link her to a blog campaign to undermine former Serious Fraud Office boss Adam Feeley. Mr Key has initiated a Government inquiry into the matter.
She told the Herald she was "deeply surprised" by Mr Key's decision to deny her the title.
"I haven't done anything wrong and ... I continue to stand by everything I said ... but I'm even more surprised not to have had anyone speak to me about it. 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."
She said Mr Eagleson told her it would be restored if she was cleared by the inquiry - which she was confident would happen.
"I think once the inquiry gets through and everything else, it will be sorted out but I can't make any comment about the inquiry."
She said Mr Eagleson had not explained why she wasn't told. Asked if she thought it was deliberate or petty, Ms Collins said: "People might think that. But they've got a lot on their plates."
Asked if the Prime Minister had given any indication of what her future prospects were if she was cleared, Ms Collins said that was a matter for Mr Key. "I'm very pleased being the member for Papakura."
There is very little precedent for what has happened, especially to a former minister of six years.
Labour deputy leader Annette King said it seemed like bad management that Ms Collins was not told by the Prime Minister's office.
"It makes me wonder whether maybe there are questions to be answered."
A spokesman for Mr Key told the Herald: "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."
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 Justice Minister Richard Worth who resigned and former Labour Minister Dover Samuels who was sacked, both following allegations of sexual impropriety.