National's Judith Collins urges Speaker Trevor Mallard to resign over $300,000 legal dispute settlement

The National Party wants Parliament's Speaker gone after it was revealed he spent more than $300,000 of taxpayer cash settling a legal dispute. 

Defamation action was taken after Trevor Mallard falsely accused a parliamentary staffer of rape. National and ACT now both want Mallard out. 

There are a couple of options for the Opposition - a motion of no confidence moved in the House. That will likely happen but Labour has the numbers to vote it down. 

So, the Speaker may also be hauled in front of a select committee, which is a huge deal in Parliament. 

It's going to come back on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and National will be heaping the pressure on her. Ardern should also prepare for the public backlash. 

"It's a complete slap in the face of taxpayers," National leader Judith Collins told Newshub. 

"The Speaker needs to resign. He needs to resign now or the Prime Minister needs to tell him to go."

National leader Judith Collins.
National leader Judith Collins. Photo credit: Newshub

Mallard made the accusation after the Debbie Francis report into bullying and harassment at Parliament was made public in May last year. He was commenting on a sexual assault accusation in the report. 

The report did not identify the accused offender, which Mallard said was integral to the review, but he did acknowledge at the time that he knew who the offender was and that the staffer had been stood down.

The Francis Review found 14 reports of sexual assault and Mallard announced that Parliamentary Services removed a "threat to the safety of women". He said what the staff member was claimed to have done to a colleague was tantamount to rape. 

"We're talking about serious sexual assault. Well that, for me, that's rape," Mallard said at the time.

The Speaker didn't directly attribute rape to the man who was stood down, but the accused's lawyers last year began defamation proceedings against him over the "rape" accusation. 

The Speaker had not spoken about the case until Tuesday. His office released a statement in which Mallard apologised to the man he accused of rape and for any distress he had caused him. 

"Some of Trevor Mallard's comments gave the impression that allegations made against that individual in the context of the Francis Review amounted to rape," the statement reads. 

"Trevor Mallard accepts that his understanding of the definition of rape at that time was incorrect and that the alleged conduct did not amount to rape (as that term is defined in the Crimes Act 1961) and that it was incorrect of him to suggest otherwise.

"Trevor Mallard apologises for the distress and humiliation his statements caused to the individual and his family.

"Trevor Mallard has provided a personal apology to the individual. Both parties consider the matter is now closed and no further comment will be made."