Simon Bridges says he did everything right during Jami-Lee Ross scandal

National Party leader Simon Bridges has defended his conduct during his party's scandal involving former member Jami-Lee Ross, as the Labour Party becomes embroiled in one of its own.

Several members of the Labour Party's youth wing have levelled serious accusations of assault against a senior staffer from the party, which they say weren't investigated properly.

National Party deputy leader Paula Bennett became involved in the scandal after the complainants approached her and she publicly aired their claims.

Newshub's Tova O'Brien broke the story of the assault allegations on August 5.

The AM Show host Duncan Garner asked Bridges if he's okay with the party's involvement in Labour's issues considering Ardern instructed her ministers to stay out of his in 2018.

"I think it's all how you deal with these things, you're referring to what you've called my 'year from hell'

"Let's be quite clear about what I did, as soon as I found out about inappropriate behaviour within 24 hours I told a Member of Parliament I had no confidence in him and he was going to the back of the back.

"All hell descended actually and you know that and I know that, but I know I did the right thing at every step of the way in that."

Ross went rogue in October 2018 after he was accused of leaking Bridges' expenses to Newshub a few weeks early.

The at the time National Party MP called a press conference at the Beehive on October 16, where over the course of an hour he announced he would quit the party, accused Bridges of electoral fraud and called him a bad leader.

He also claimed Bennett and Bridges confronted him at the start of October 2018, telling him there were complaints about him harassing women and he would be sent to the backbench. Ross denied harassing women.

Bridges held another press conference soon after to deny the accusations and say Ross had been expelled from the party.

Simon Bridges exits an elevator looking scared.
Simon Bridges arrives for his press conference following Jami-Lee Ross' one. Photo credit: Newshub.

That same day Ardern instructed her ministers to keep out of the issue and tell media the situation was an issue for the National Party.

Deputy Prime Minister and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters' only statement that day was to play the song 'Burning Bridges' to reporters.

Website Newsroom published an article detailing complaints from four women against Ross on October 18, where they said he used "brutal" sex to dig dirt on others.

Later that night it was revealed National Party President Peter Goodfellow signed a confidentiality agreement with a woman who complained about Ross' bullying two years before.

A recording from early October 2018, leaked on November 5, 2018 detailed Bennett and Bridges discussing what reason to give for Ross taking leave from Parliament, which included discussion of allegations of harassment.

"I give you my 100 percent assurance that if you go with the statement along the lines we've talked about, I will never badmouth you in relation to this - privately, publicly, in background, off the record in any way," Mr Bridges can be heard saying on the tape.

"I will do everything within my power to keep the things we talked about last week out of the public [inaudible]. I will do everything."

Bridges said the current situation in Labour isn't one that he would want to trivialise, but he thinks there are things that could have been done better.

"I want to see it dealt with right and I agree with the sentiment of the prime minister about being victims-centric, but if she says that she has to mean it.

"There has to be accountability in the beehive and actually her senior ministers can't subtly sledge the complainants as they continue to do."

Peters and the New Zealand First caucus have publicly doubted the allegations, which he labelled innuendo.

"Led by a woman called Paula Bennett making all sorts of vile allegations by way of innuendo without a fact to back it up," he told Newshub earlier this week.

Ardern is backing herself for her conduct during the scandal though, telling The AM Show on Tuesday her focus is on the complainants.

"I can only act on what I know. I know enough now to do what I am doing, which is to bring in a process for these complainants and to help them be heard, and from everything I have seen from them, this is what they're asking for."

Newshub.

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