National MPs embroiled in the legal case with Winston Peters are staying tight-lipped about a reported offer to settle for the scalp of Paula Bennett.

But Bennett, speaking about a different matter last week, said that she had no intention of going anywhere and planned to be the Deputy Prime Minister after the 2020 election.

Peters is suing Bennett, National's deputy leader and former State Services Minister, and former Social Development Minister Anne Tolley for $450,000 in damages for breach of privacy.

Details of Peters' pension overpayments - about $21,000 over seven years - became public during the 2017 election campaign, which Peters has called a deliberate attempt to discredit him.


Newstalk ZB political editor Barry Soper said that lawyers from both sides met in Auckland last week in an effort to settle the case before it goes to the Auckland High Court on November 4.

During the discussion, mention was made of a "National Party body", and Newstalk ZB understands that was a clear reference to Bennett.

Last night Bennett did not wish to comment other than to say it was ironic that there appeared to be a leak about a court case that alleged someone had leaked information.

But last week, when she was announced as National's campaign chair for the 2020 election and would vacate the Upper Harbour seat to move to the party list, she said she had no intention of leaving Parliament.

She said the decision to be list-only was not about making it easier to retire from politics and avoid a byelection if National lost in 2020.

"I love being an MP. I'm adding value. I think we are going to win next year.

"There's no concern from me about whether I'll be in Parliament next time, and I plan on being the Deputy Prime Minister."

This morning, Tolley echoed Bennett's comments about irony.


"I think it's a bit ironic that somebody's leaked details of a court case about people leaking."

She repeated that she had not leaked any details about Peters' pension overpayments.

"It's all in front of the court, so my understanding is that we can't say anything about it."

Bennett has also denied having anything to do with the leak.

National's lawyers would not comment, nor would Peters' lawyer Brian Henry.

Comment is being sought from Peters, who is recovering from a leg operation in Auckland yesterday.

About four weeks before the 2017 election, Peters revealed he had been overpaid the pension for seven years, but that he had repaid the amount as soon as he had found out.

He pro-actively revealed the overpayment in a press statement because media outlets had been asking questions about it.

Bennett and Tolley, whose legal fees are being paid for by the Crown, were told about Peters' case under the "no surprises" policy, whereby public servants warn politicians about potentially sensitive issues.

It is Cabinet convention that the Government covers the legal costs of ministers who are sued in the course of doing their jobs.

In Official Information Act documents obtained by Newsroom into the internal MSD investigation, it transpired that 41 Ministry of Social Development staff had been involved in Peters' case and interviews had been conducted with 12 staff who had full access to information on the case.

National has consistently denied having leaked details.