The reason Jacinda Ardern felt it was necessary to sack Iain Lees-Galloway over a relationship

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern felt it was necessary to sack Iain Lees-Galloway from her Cabinet over a relationship with a former staffer because he was the Minister of Workplace Relations. 

The Prime Minister dropped the Labour MP from Cabinet for having what's been described as a "completely inappropriate" relationship with a former staffer over a 12-month period. 

"Given the nature of the sustained period... the issue is that this could've led to accusations of him inappropriately using his office given his role as Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety," Ardern told reporters. 

"There are circumstances here that I think reach a threshold that require the actions I've taken today and therefore is something I would've wished the minister to have shared with me.... I've made the decision about the role and my confidence in him as a minister."

The Labour MP will not seek re-election in his Palmerston North electorate. 

Lees-Galloway's Workplace Relations and Safety portfolio has been given to Andrew Little, his ACC portfolio goes to Carmel Sepuloni, and his Immigration portfolio falls with Kris Faafoi. 

"I accept the Prime Minister's decision and apologise absolutely," Lees-Galloway said in a statement on Wednesday. "I have acted completely inappropriately in my position and cannot continue as a minister."

The Prime Minister called an impromptu press conference at 11am on Wednesday and her office provided no details about what would be discussed. 

She announced that Lees-Galloway had been dismissed as a minister. 

It came after National leader Judith Collins told The AM Show on Wednesday morning that she had passed on to Ardern a tip-off she had received about a Labour Party minister.

Ardern confirmed that on Tuesday Collins advised her of an email she had received that related to Lees-Galloway. Collins conveyed to her that she had asked the individual to relay anything directly to the Prime Minister's office. 

"My Chief of Staff subsequently contacted the leader of the Opposition's office to pass on contact information, should that be required by the correspondent," Ardern said. 

"At around 3pm my office received an email directly from a third party alleging that the minister had an inappropriate relationship with a former staffer who worked in one of his agencies."

Ardern said it was the first time that she had heard such allegations.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has booted Iain Lees-Galloway from Cabinet.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has booted Iain Lees-Galloway from Cabinet. Photo credit: Getty

She said at around 5:45pm on Tuesday, she sat down with Lees-Galloway and "put a range of questions and allegations" to him, and he confirmed that a consensual relationship had occurred. 

"It involved someone who had previously worked in his office and had been based in one of his agencies... I wish to protect the identity of the person so will avoid providing any details over and above those necessary to explain my decision that may reveal who they are."

Ardern said over the course of the conversation, it "became clear" that Lees-Galloway's position as a minister had become "untenable" and she advised him of that at the time. 

"The minister has shown a lack of judgment over a period of 12 months. In undertaking this relationship he has opened himself up to accusations of improperly using his office.

"He has not modelled the behaviour I expect as a Minister that is in charge of setting a standard and culture in workplaces. His actions have led me to lose my confidence in him as a minister."

The Prime Minister said politics is a place where standards are important.  

"Politics is a place where we do need to maintain standards, and politicians should pay the price for mistakes, their families should not. I do ask that we try and maintain that distinction."

The National Party has been dealing with its own political scandals.  

Collins pressured Andrew Falloon to resign effectively immediately as a National MP on Tuesday amid allegations he had been sending inappropriate sexually explicit images to young women.

Collins became leader just after her predecessor Todd Muller came under pressure over his handling of another scandal involving National MP Hamish Walker, who resigned after confessing to leaking confidential COVID-19 patient data to the press.