'He was a bully': Christine Rankin accuses 'crude' Trevor Mallard of bullying

New Zealand's biggest inquiry into bullying at Parliament was ordered by a man accused of being New Zealand's biggest bully himself. 

Former Work and Income NZ chief executive Christine Rankin says she was subjected to a campaign of bullying from senior ministers who wanted her out - and that Speaker Trevor Mallard was among them.

"I think anyone can look back on my situation 18 years ago and accept that it was the biggest bullying situation that has ever happened in this country that we know of," she told Newshub. 

She says she was taunted and comments were made about the way she looked. She claims she was even told that her earrings were a "sexual come-on". 

Ms Rankin was a senior public servant under the last Labour Government, and says she laughed out loud when Speaker Trevor Mallard announced the major review at Parliament. 

"Incidents have occurred over many years in these buildings which are unacceptable," said Mr Mallard when announcing the inquiry earlier this week. 

Ms Rankin says she was relentlessly bullied by senior Labour Party ministers after they took power in 1999, and that group included now-Speaker Mr Mallard. 

"He was a bully," she told Newshub. "They were all bullies and they revelled in it." 

She says ministers would whisper and laugh about her during meetings - with Mr Mallard using language that still makes her too uncomfortable to repeat. 

"He was crude and rude and it was directed at me."

The ministers were trying to force Ms Rankin out of her job as chief executive of Work and Income, she says, because she didn't look right and wasn't educated in the right way. 

"They destroyed my reputation, they destroyed my career and they almost tipped me over the edge."

Ms Rankin says things have changed for the better under the new coalition Government.

Newshub put Ms Rankin's comments to Mr Mallard, but his office says he won't comment on specific allegations.

On The AM Show on Wednesday morning, Mr Mallard discussed his regrets over his relationship breakdowns with staff, although he wasn't referring to Ms Rankin, who was not a staffer. 

"I don't think there are many people who have been in this building for some time who have been absolutely perfect in their relationships," said Mr Mallard. 

Parliament is often described as a robust and stressful workplace. 

The Francis Review is about changing the way people behave under that pressure, and everyone will have to be willing to look in the mirror.

If you would like to share your experience of working at Parliament, contact annabracewellworrall@mediaworks.co.nz