Judith Collins won't rule out misleading National MP Nick Smith about leak that never leaked, which forced him to quit

It's been another messy day for the National Party with president Peter Goodfellow refusing to resign despite failing to properly investigate disgraced candidate Jake Bezzant. 

And leader Judith Collins is refusing to rule out having misled Nick Smith over an employment investigation which forced the long-serving MP to quit Parliament.

"I'm dealing with the issues as they come about. But I mean, the issue with Jake Bezzant for instance, I mean wow, who could have imagined that one?" Collins said on Tuesday. 

It's no laughing matter - Bezzant is accused of impersonating women online for sex. He was able to run for National last election because he slipped past the goalie.

The goalie is Goodfellow, who insists Bezzant was vetted. 

"I spoke to him, I spoke to people who employed him, I spoke to people who knew him," Goodfellow said on Tuesday. 

Goodfellow says he found nothing untoward when he investigated claims Bezzant doctored his CV. He says he will not stand down as party president. 

"I think I've got lots of support, thank you."

But fellow board member and chief whip Matt Doocey paints a far less rosy picture for the president.

"The board has some explaining to do around issues with Jake Bezzant," Doocey said. "Clearly there were some red flags early on with his CV and I think potentially a firmer response could have headed that off at the pass."

Heading that off at the pass would have meant one less scandal for a party beset by scandal - a party desperate to put its best foot forward. National MPs are adamant there is no bullying in the party. 

"No," said National MP Christopher Luxon when asked if he'd ever bullied someone. 

Former leader Simon Bridges gave the same response: "No."

National MP Chris Bishop said he doesn't believe there's any bullying within the party, a sentiment shared by MP Nicola Grigg, who said: "Not that I'm aware of."

National's longest serving MP Nick Smith has quit over bullying allegations. He'd been warned an inquiry into the incident had been leaked to media, though no leak appears to exist.

Collins won't say if she was under the impression the inquiry was going to leak. 

"I'm not going down that track anymore, thank you."

She also refuses to say if it was her that smoked Smith out. 

"As I've said, any discussions I have with my caucus colleagues are entirely private."

When pressed to rule it out, Collins repeated: "I do not discuss any discussions I have with my caucus colleagues."

There were just two people on that phone call when Smith was warned about the leak that never leaked.

Smith will give his valedictory speech this week and Collins wouldn't say if she's worried he might talk about that conversation. 

Analysis by Political Editor Tova O'Brien

It's a mystery why Collins is keeping quiet on this. 

She's making it sound like she has a blanket policy of not discussing conversations with MPs but that's simply not the case - she's relished gasbagging about telling off wayward MPs in the past. 

And her silence only serves to make it look like she has something to hide - if she didn't mislead Smith she could just say so, case closed. 

That valedictory farewell speech Smith is delivering on Thursday is unlikely to yield any clues. Newshub understands his focus will be on his three decade long political career rather than how it all ended.