Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, retaining confidence in Trevor Mallard, denies Speaker being protected by the state

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern believes House Speaker Trevor Mallard is still the man for the job despite behaviour she describes as inexcusable.

Mallard, who's been under fire from the Opposition National Party since late last year, spent over $300,000 in legal fees - courtesy of the taxpayer - after a former Parliamentary staffer was accused of sexual assault, which the Speaker described as tantamount to rape. 

He apologised "unreservedly" for the remark, but National's shadow House Leader Chris Bishop revealed in Parliament on Wednesday the statement of claim by the plaintiff lodged in the Wellington High Court during the defamation proceedings claimed Mallard repeated his allegations against the staffer on the afternoon of May 22, despite being told earlier by Parliamentary Services he was wrong. 

"That is appalling," Bishop told MPs.

Ardern, who previously said the matter had been settled and won't call for Mallard's resignation, told The AM Show on Monday he's already apologised and admitted his actions were incorrect.

"He was wrong - you're not going to hear me defend that. He was wrong - he's had to face up to that with the person involved, so they've gone through a legal process, and through that process, as far as those two parties are concerned, it's settled.

 "He's not a Cabinet minister - he's the Speaker, he's Parliament's person."

Ardern noted Mallard had already fronted a Select Committee on the matter. 

"He actually sought to get there in a timely way and apologise.

"I'm not going to sit here and condone what happened. Why should I when he himself has acknowledged the problem?"

Jacinda Ardern.
Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: The AM Show

Host Duncan Garner questioned Ardern on what was in it for her to protect Mallard and whether it was state protection.

"I wouldn't call this protection, Duncan... I certainly wouldn't call it that. When someone makes a mistake they should front, they should apologise and, of course, directly deal with the party involved here, and he has done that," Ardern said.  

Ardern's Labour Party has an outright majority in Parliament, meaning the removal of Mallard would require the party's support. National has already been unsuccessful in an attempt to remove the Speaker after a failed vote of no confidence last month. 

There is an outstanding employment claim against Parliamentary Services by the former staffer.