Labour leader Phil Goff says he is surprised Prime Minister John Key was not informed before disgraced former Government minister Richard Worth was approved as Monaco's honorary consul to New Zealand.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully signed off the appointment last October but Mr Key was not informed beforehand.

Dr Worth left Parliament in June 2009 after a scandal involving allegations by a Korean businesswoman and Labour Party member Neelam Choudary of a sexual nature.

He was never charged and has since kept a low profile.

At the time, Mr Key said he would have sacked Dr Worth had he not resigned.

Yesterday, Mr Goff said that he would have expected Mr McCully to have at least told Mr Key about the Monaco appointment.

"I'm very surprised that he didn't," he said. "It's very unusual for a Foreign Minister not to tell his Prime Minister about something that is of course going to be controversial."

However, Mr Goff said it was a matter for the Government.

"If [Dr Worth is] not fit to be a member of Parliament then John Key would presumably think that he's not fit to be a consul, but
that's a matter for the Government."

Mr Key said yesterday that the appointment was nothing to do with him. Mr McCully had sought legal advice and his hands were tied. It was up to Monaco to decide on diplomatic positions and there were no real grounds to decline.

"Because he sought a legal opinion there was nothing he could do. It only requires his signature and the Governor-General's," the PM told TVNZ's Breakfast show.

Mr McCully said he had delayed approving the appointment for about a year, until last October.

"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."

The ministry confirmed that Dr Worth was appointed to the role on October 1 last year.