Senior National MP Amy Adams describes leader Todd Muller as a "straight-up person" but admits he "could've been clearer" when he was asked last week about confidential patient information sent to MPs.
National MP Hamish Walker confessed last Tuesday to leaking COVID-19 patient details to the press, earning him a rebuke from Muller and leading to him cancelling plans to run as the National Party candidate in Southland.
The data was sent to Walker by ex-National Party president Michelle Boag, and when asked on Thursday if he had sought assurances from his MPs that they knew nothing more about it, Muller said: "That issue is sorted from my perspective."
In the press conference Muller was asked: "Was Michelle Boag a source for Michael Woodhouse?" - but Muller did not directly answer the question.
"Look, again, I don't really understand where you're going with this. We've had a situation over the last 48 hours. It's very clear that I think it was totally inappropriate what occurred and Hamish Walker has now paid the price."
But it wasn't sorted. The next day National MP Michael Woodhouse confessed that he, too, received similar confidential information from Boag in late June - and Amy Adams now admits her leader could have been clearer to the public.
Adams, who stood at Muller's shoulders during the press conference when he was asked if any other MPs had information, said her leader thought he was being asked whether Woodhouse received the same information as Walker.
"I think Todd acknowledges that he should've made it clear that what he was talking about was that Michael hadn't had that same information or been involved in the release of that information," Adams told Magic Talk.
"Michael was sent information, absolutely, but he didn't act on it," she added. "MPs get sent all sorts of things all the time. Michael did the right thing in saying 'there's no way I'm using this' and deleting it."
Woodhouse said in a statement on Friday that between June 21 and 25 he received four unsolicited emails from Boag containing information that was similar to the information Walker received, insofar as it contained COVID-19 patient details.
Woodhouse said Boag was not the source of any previous information he released, such as his unresolved claim of a homeless man taking up residence in a state-run managed isolation facility.
The National Party health spokesperson said he made contact with Michael Heron QC, appointed by the Government to investigate the privacy breach, and has offered to cooperate with the probe.
Adams said Woodhouse should be judged "on the way he has acted - not what other people have sent him", describing him as "a very effective communicator and player" in the health role.
"I think it is being conflated somewhat with what Hamish did which is not acceptable."
Adams, who is ranked at three on the National Party's list, said Muller is a "very, very straight up person and someone of great integrity", and she pushed back against criticism of his response to the privacy breach.
"I think what was really clear was right from the outset with how serious these allegations were and Todd was very clear that it was unacceptable behaviour for anyone in our caucus to be sharing personal information," she said.
"He acted straight away and said to Hamish 'your portfolios are gone' and raised it immediately with the board. Removing a candidacy is something for our board and ultimately Hamish made that decision for himself."
Boag has since stepped down from her role as acting CEO of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust and has resigned her membership from the National Party.
Adams said Boag's actions were inexcusable.
"I don't think what Michelle has done can be excused in any way whatsoever. No New Zealander should have their personal information shared or distributed."