Judith Collins has provided an update on Todd Muller after his dramatic exit as leader, saying he is "improving" and will return to Parliament when he's well again.
"I've said to him that if he can that's great, but as you know he has had quite a serious health issue and I've been speaking to him each week to check on how he's going and he's really improving," Collins said on Wednesday.
"I'm not going to pressure him when clearly he's had to deal with a serious health issue. People do sometimes have health issues and if they do get the right assistance and support, they can overcome it."
Muller resigned on July 14, a couple of months into the role, citing "health" reasons. He stepped down just days after ex-National Party president Michelle Boag confessed to passing confidential COVID-19 data to two National MPs.
Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker stepped down as National's candidate at the upcoming election after he admitted to leaking the information to the press.
The other recipient of similar information from Boag, MP Michael Woodhouse, did not leak the information to the press - but he came under fire for not informing the Government that he had received the confidential data.
Muller came under pressure for not disclosing sooner that Woodhouse had also received information. He was asked during a press conference if he had sought assurances that Boag had not passed on data to Woodhouse - but he dodged the question.
The next day Woodhouse confessed that he, too, received similar confidential information putting pressure on Muller for not coming clean about Woodhouse sooner, because it turned out a press release had been drafted days before.
Muller's deputy leader was Nikki Kaye, who admitted to Newshub earlier this month that Woodhouse's press statement should have gone out sooner.
Newshub's political editor Tova O'Brien revealed she was told the leadership gagged Woodhouse from putting it out sooner, because they didn't want it to overshadow a road announcement.
Kaye insisted she did not prevent its release.
Amy Adams, who was ranked third at the time, also said she did not urge Woodhouse not to come clean. She says she told Woodhouse to inform the person appointed by the Government to investigate the leaked information, Michael Heron QC.
The day Muller stood down as leader, Judith Collins was elected, and it wasn't long before both Kaye and Adams announced their retirement from politics - which Collins insisted was not because of her.
Collins stood down Woodhouse from the health portfolio and replaced him with Whangarei MP Dr Shane Reti. She also promoted former leader Simon Bridges, and gave Muller a high ranking on her reshuffled list as trade spokesperson.
Collins said she didn't seek an assurance from Muller that he didn't prevent Woodhouse from coming clean sooner and is awaiting the results of the Heron QC inquiry.
Collins said she is "very, very confident" in Muller's integrity.
Muller became leader after he and Kaye rolled the former leadership team of Simon Bridges and Paula Bennett, the latter who plans to retire after the election.