National MP Jami-Lee Ross has accused leader Simon Bridges of being a "corrupt politician", and says he will be speaking to police about his "unlawful activity".
The Botany MP has resigned from the National Party and Parliament and will now stand as an independent at an upcoming Botany by-election.
"My dramatic internal falling out with Simon Bridges is why I'm now the target of a campaign to push me out," Mr Ross said during a press conference on Tuesday.
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"It is clear from the PwC report that no person could be identified as the leaker of Simon Bridges expenses. Rather, my communication with my local police area commander is being used against me."
Mr Bridges denied the allegations in a follow-up press conference, calling them "baseless" and saying there was "zero chance" he had done anything illegal.
He said the National Party caucus has voted to unanimously expel Jami-Lee Ross.
Here are some of Jami-Lee Ross' most explosive allegations:
- Mr Ross has slammed Mr Bridges and National deputy leader Paula Bennett after he says they accused him of harassing four women. He said their story changed over time.
- Mr Ross said the women had not approached their employer, Parliamentary Services, which further raised Mr Ross' suspicions. He said the "changing nature of the story made me think it was a bluff".
- Mr Ross also doubled down on claims that Mr Bridges took a $100,000 donation from a Chinese businessman and asked him to split it into small amounts to hide it from the Electoral Commission. Mr Bridges called these allegations "entirely false".
- Mr Ross said he will be releasing images of Mr Bridges having dinner with the Chinese businessman.
- "I know Simon filed a false return because [National MP] Todd McClay and I both spotted that false name in his return in January, and suggested that it needed to be tidied up."
- "Simon Bridges knows exactly what Cathedral Club is. It was a name used to hide a donation from a close friend of his. He claims it was a clerical error - I call BS on that."
- Mr Ross said he will be visiting police to lay an official complaint against Mr Bridges' "unlawful activity", and will give them a phone recording of his calls and text messages with the National leader.
- Mr Bridges said he invites the police to investigate "fully" and "properly".
- "I had the presence of mind to record conversations... I am not proud that I did not have the courage to speak truth to power back then... but now I have the clarity to understand that multiple breaches of electorate law by Simon Bridges is not acceptable," said Mr Ross.
- He also claims many other National members support him and his views against Mr Bridges, but says they are too scared to speak out after what has happened to him.
- He admits he suffered a "mental breakdown" over issues with the National leader, and said he's extremely disappointed with Mr Bridges' comments that his mental health problem was "embarrassing".
- He commented on Mr Bridges' "falling" poll ratings. When Mr Bridges became leader, he had net-positive favourability, Mr Ross said. But within weeks, that turned negative, and Mr Bridges now has net-negative favourability, he added.
- "The speed and magnitude of Simon's un-likability is worse than Phil Goff [and] David Shearer had when they were in Opposition.