Winston Peters has identified who he thinks is the source of the leak of his superannuation details, which led to a privacy court case that he lost.
The Deputy Prime Minister spoke in the House during the general debate today and used the protection of parliamentary privilege to name former National press secretary Rachel Morton as the alleged source.
He further named several people he alleged was involved, but wouldn't name them outside the debating chamber.
Contacted by the Herald, Morton denied being the leaker, saying the allegations made by Peters are "categorically not true".
Speaking in Parliament, Peters claimed the leak was an "Act-inspired hit job" and "dirty politics".
Peters claimed the attack was orchestrated by the Act and National parties.
What Peters claimed
He claimed Morton heard about the details of his case because she was there when former minister Anne Tolley told Paula Bennett in a ministerial office.
Peters claimed Morton then told Act leader David Seymour, who she was in a relationship with, in confidence.
Seymour then told Taxpayer Union director Jordan Williams, who told Hutt-South MP Chris Bishop's father, John Bishop, Peters alleged.
He said the information was then passed to Newsroom editor Tim Murphy and blogger David Farrar.
Morton used to work for Newshub and Newstalk ZB, said Peters.
"Newshub was doing its best to protect her after David Seymour tried to get the story leaked through channels connected with Morton. Three Newshub journalists … looked collectively stunned when they were told they had burnt Ms Morton as a source.
"They knew they'd been tumbled. When this was put to the Newshub reporters that it would also expose National and Jordan Williams' dealings with Tim Murphy, one of the Newshub journalists paused and said that National were 'distancing themselves' from the story.
"But it was an Act-inspired hit job to damage me politically in collaboration with a National Party staffer, Rachel Morton, who was the source of the leak and the source of Jordan Williams weaponising the information during the election campaign.
"Every last one of them - Morton, Seymour, Williams, Bishop, Murphy, Farrar - played dirty politics to breach my inalienable right, and the inalienable right of every New Zealander, to privacy."
Peters went on to say that his source told him that National Party members "joked amongst themselves about the leak" but couldn't do anything because of the "no surprises" rule.
"The risk was too high. That of course didn't prevent Ms Tolley from telling her sister, nor did it prevent 42 people from being made aware of my super case.
"All it took was for that private information to fall into the hands of David Seymour, who craved media attention but couldn't claim the limelight. That would have placed a spotlight on Rachel Morton as his source - this is what dirty politics looks like."
He said that was why he had taken the case to court, which found that his privacy had been breached but his case fell short because he failed to identify the leaker. Peters is appealing the ruling.
Peters continued in the House: "The collusion between the National Party, Act and these grubby figures in and around politics is what turns people off politics. The characters in this story of my super leak view dirty politics as their religion - it's the worship of jackals by jackasses."
Peters said this was "day one of the truth fight back" and Seymour was going to be in "my line".
Speaking to the Herald, Williams denied any involvement and said Peters' claims were "pure fantasy".
"Yesterday, Winston was talking about the Never-Never Land – today it looks like he is paying a visit."
On Twitter, Murphy and Farrar also denied Peters' claims.
Seymour asked to leave
Act leader David Seymour sought the leave of the House to make a personal explanation immediately after Peters' speech, but leave wasn't granted.
Seymour was later given a National Party speaking slot and said Peters' accusation was categorically untrue.
He called it a "disgraceful, sleazy, innuendo-fuelled speech."
He said the motivation was to distract from the story about Peters putting his friends on a taxpayer-funded trip to Antarctica.
He was later asked to leave the House for saying Peters lied, and then asked to return to withdraw and apologise - which he did.
Speaking to reporters outside the House, Seymour said Peters was simply repeating "sleazy, baseless innuendo saying things that never happened".
"I categorically deny involvement in that leak – I had nothing to do with it."
He said that Morton did not give him information and he did not pass on any information.
"The reason this accusation is being made is we were in a personal relationship – he's abusing that fact and I think that's a new low for New Zealand politics."
Seymour said Peters is struggling in the polls.
"[He's] finished and is now trying to drag other people down with him ... Winston Peters is a desperate man making it up and, in this case, telling lies."
He said he didn't know anything about Peters' superannuation payments until they hit headlines.
National MP Chris Bishop spoke in the House after Peters and said the speech was indicative of the rest of Peters' political career.
"Fabricating things, alleging things without foundation, and the classic is always this: will Mr Peters repeat those statements outside this chamber ... and mention all the names, my Dad, David Seymour and Rachel Morton?
"My bet is he won't."
He said parliamentary privilege should not be used to deflect from real issues.
"We all know why it's happened - because of the Antarctica NZ story that broke this morning on RNZ. Forty years he's been doing this, and he'll continue to do this as long as he's in this Parliament."
Bishop said he hoped that New Zealand voters would see it for what it was and "cast NZ First into political oblivion".
Under the Parliamentary Privilege Act, politicians are not liable for anything they say in the House.
This privilege seeks to ensure that Parliament remains independent and free from outside control.
Outside the chamber
Outside of the debating chamber, Peters wouldn't repeat his allegations or name the people he had named in the chamber, saying he was taking the fight through the courts.
"No no, you heard my general debate speech," he told reporters.
Asked what comes next, he said he would repeat what he said in the High Court when they issued proceedings, which would happen "very soon".
Peters said he would only repeat what he has said in court.
He was "very confident" we would win his appeal, though his day in court wouldn't come before the election.
"I've had these battles before, when we have been overruled initially, but my case I'm resolved to see that the truth comes out, and the truth will be."
Asked again about what he said in the House, Peters told reporters "not to be repetitively stupid".
Seymour speaks again
Speaking to Heather Du Plessis-Allan on Newstalk ZB this afternoon, Seymour denied that Morton told him Peters' superannuation details.
He denied that he passed on the private information to Taxpayer Union director Jordan Williams, saying he didn't have anything to pass on.
"The first I heard of it [the leak] was probably the same as you Heather, reading it in the press," he said.
If he was quoted in stories surrounding the leak, "it was from a position of comment rather than a position of knowledge."
Seymour said Peters was in a "very desperate" position in Parliament, with consistently low ratings at the tail-end of his career.
"If you look at the news today, the story is that his friends got to go to Antarctica for no reason."
The claims that the Foreign Minister directed Antarctica New Zealand to give two highly prized spots to his friends compromised Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Peters' position, Seymour said.
"You've got a desperate guy at the end of his career, he's been in Parliament too long in my opinion, and now he's trying to drag me into 'dirty politics' for some reason."
High Court orders Peters to pay $320,000
Peters was this week ordered by the High Court to pay nearly $320,000 in costs after his failed court action over details of his superannuation payments being leaked.
After a two-week hearing in Auckland last November, a High Court judgment in April ruled Peters' privacy was deliberately breached in the lead-up to the 2017 general election to publicly embarrass him and cause him harm.
But the 75-year-old's claim for damages and declarations against former government ministers Paula Bennett and Anne Tolley, State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes, the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and its former chief executive Brendan Boyle was dismissed.
In his decision, Justice Venning said Peters was "not able to establish that they were responsible for the disclosure of the payment irregularity to the media".
The new judgment orders Peters to pay Bennett and Tolley $101,897.26 - while a total of $215,921.11 is to be paid to the remaining defendants. All of the money will be paid to the Crown, which funded the defence for all five defendants.
Bennett told the Herald earlier this week: "There was never any substance or proof by Mr Peters when making allegations about myself and Mrs Tolley.
"This was proven in court when, in summarising, [Peters' lawyer Brian] Henry stated that they understood we did not leak any information regarding Mr Peters. In that context it is entirely appropriate that he pay costs to the Crown."
Henry had argued no costs should be awarded because the defendants were funded by the Crown and the proceedings involved a matter of public interest.
In May 2017, MSD discovered Peters had been wrongly paid the single person's pension for seven years despite being in a long-term relationship with partner Jan Trotman.
Once alerted, he paid back the $18,000 difference and MSD decided not to open a fraud case.
Boyle alerted the State Services Commission, and Tolley and Bennett were briefed in their social development and state services portfolios under the "no surprises" convention.
But the details of the overpayment made their way to journalists in August 2017, a month before the general election.
Peters took legal action before he started negotiating with the National Party about a potential coalition after the 2017 election.