NZ election 2020: Judith Collins rubbishes claim Andrew Falloon didn't send images

The Leader of the Opposition is rubbishing suggestions someone else sent inappropriate images from Andrew Falloon's phone.

On Monday, Falloon, who was the National MP for Rangitata, announced he was retiring from politics at the election. 

However, it soon emerged Falloon allegedly sent a pornographic image to a young woman. Police "investigated a complaint in relation to the sending of an unsolicited image at the beginning of July" but the matter was found "to not meet the evidentiary threshold for prosecution".

On Tuesday, more women came forward to National leader Judith Collins with further allegations and Falloon stood down from Parliament. In light of the new information, police began seeking "more information in relation to these matters" and asked any affected to get in touch.

Collins believes more women could come forward.

"I am speculating based on the pattern of behaviour and the people may well have gone to police directly and, of course, I am not aware of who those might be," the leader said.

Collins has accused Falloon of lying about the incidents.

She told The AM Show the former MP told her "he felt that the person who had, the complainant, the first woman complainant, had been wrong in what she had said but he realised he couldn't go into an election with all this over him.

"I understand from the young woman, who I have spoken to, that he told [the police] that his phone had been stolen or friend had taken it and then sent this picture.

"If you know anything about the parliamentary service phones that we have, you have got to have face ID or its fingerprint or its password, and by the way, I don't think most of us would have pornography on our phones."

There were reports on Monday evening that Falloon's version of events was that he left his phone unattended at a party and someone else sent the images.

On Tuesday, Collins said Falloon had earlier mentioned that the communications were an accident.

"His story had changed already because it had been investigated by police where he had had a story around how this was apparently an accident and the police were able to show that it wasn't... but then when asked if there was any other incidents, no this was the only one, it now turns out there were many other."

Collins and former leaders of the National Party have said they were unaware of the initial police investigation into the then-MP. Asked why she wasn't informed, the current leader said she expected it was to protect Falloon's privacy.

"I don't know other than that they would have been required to respect his privacy," Collins said. 

She also believes Falloon's family weren't previously aware.

"When I spoke to Andrew Falloon on Monday, I offered to ring his family and he asked me not to. It became obvious yesterday that his family had no idea what was going on or even that he had been under investigation."

Ahead of meeting her National caucus on Tuesday, Collins said she would be making it clear that "they need to come and see me if there is anything they need to disclose, straight away".

She told The AM Show she received the support of her colleagues and that they were "shocked" by Falloon's behaviour. The need to be professional around alcohol was also raised. 

"It is best to be wise and to be careful with whom you drink and where."

In his statement on Monday, Falloon said he was battling unresolved grief after the recent suicide of a friend and the deaths of three friends earlier. Collins also said at the time he had "significant mental health issues". 

There have been accusations that mental health was used to either excuse or cover up the indecent communications issue. The images weren't mentioned in the first statements.

Speaking to The AM Show on Wednesday, Changing Minds chief executive Taimi Allan said while Falloon was obviously going through a tragic time, mental health shouldn't be used to excuse actions. 

"There is no mental illness in the DSM (the Diagnostic Manual) whose symptoms are sexting people. That's just not okay."

She said it was important to encourage leaders to be open about and respectful of mental health issues.