Simon Bridges stands by Maggie Barry over bullying denial

National Party leader Simon Bridges is standing by Maggie Barry over accusations she bullied staff members and referred to department officials as her "hired help". 

North Shore MP Maggie Barry denied the allegations over the weekend, and again dismissed them on Tuesday, telling Newshub that a Parliamentary Service investigation found no evidence of bullying or harassment. 

"There were two allegations made, they were thoroughly investigated by the public service, and were not upheld, so the allegations around bullying and harassment were not found to be true," she said. 

Ms Barry said she creates "a positive environment" for her staff whom she has "high expectations" of, but treats with "respect [which is what she has] endeavoured to do in all my work places over a long period of time".

"I welcome the scrutiny around these allegations, I refute them entirely, and I do not accept that there had been bullying and harassment in my workplace."

Mr Bridges defended the former Maggie's Garden Show host, telling Newshub on Tuesday the allegations have been disputed and Parliamentary Services "found there was no harassment or bullying".

"We don't want to lose our sense of humour around things," said Mr Bridges. "But none of that's an excuse.

"Where there are matters with any Member of Parliament, I would encourage people to come forward. All of that is available for people to do that."

Ms Barry also addressed a secret recording of in which she's heard saying Jesse Mulligan's campaigning on conservation was "pathetic". 

The recording was released by the former staff member who complained to Parliamentary Service about her "bullying" behaviour. In the recording Ms Barry can be heard saying she doesn't care what The Project host thinks and that "his conservation stuff was pathetic". 

Mulligan clapped back on Monday night's The Project, saying the National MP's comment was "not the worst thing anyone has said about me" and no worse than most people said to each other in unguarded conversations.

Mulligan wrote on Monday that Ms Barry, the former Conservation Minister, should not have slammed someone who was speaking up in support of conservation. 

"I'm someone with a microphone, with a voice. If she can so easily dismiss my ideas as "pathetic", what chance do you have of being heard when you write her a letter, or make a submission to a select committee, or turn up at a protest?"

Ms Barry said she and her staff members are "pretty uncomfortable" about being recorded in private and said she has asked Parliamentary Service to "find out more" about it. 

"I think it is an important issue for them to address."


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