National Party leadership wanted Jake Bezzant gone, but president Peter Goodfellow shut down concerns

Newshub understands the National Party leadership wanted Jake Bezzant gone during the election, but president Peter Goodfellow shut down concerns. 

Opposition leader Judith Collins has broken her silence to address allegations against Jake Bezzant in an interview with Newshub, saying she wants National's candidate selection process seriously tightened. 

It comes as two women allege the disgraced former candidate impersonated them online in order to elicit sexual images from men. 

Earlier this week, Bezzant's ex-girlfriend Tarryn alleged he would impersonate her online, using nude images and videos exchanged during their relationship. 

On Thursday, a second woman, who Newshub has agreed not to identify, claimed Bezzant had also posed as her online to share explicit images. When Bezzant's ex came forward on Wednesday, it all felt familiar, she said. 

"I thought maybe that that behaviour had stopped," she told Newshub. "It makes me feel quite sick because it's betrayal and it's like you're being used and it's just very upsetting."

She says she was incensed when she heard Bezzant's defence on Wednesday - that "personal relationship break-ups sometimes get messy" and that there are "two sides to every story". 

"This behaviour is not just a one-off like he's trying to claim it is - a bad break up - this is serial behaviour of his that a lot of girls - I could name five or six - that I know that he's done this to," the woman told Newshub. 

She isn't sure if intimate images of her were shared, but she claims she was impersonated online. Newshub has seen screenshots of her confronting Bezzant about it. 

She said: "Someone's having some fun with a fake account they've made of me. Your name is being mentioned."

Bezzant replies: "You're the third person this week to ask me this."

Bezzant didn't reply to Newshub's enquiries on Thursday. 

The women's experiences have shone a light on our harmful digital communications law and its need to prove harm and harmful intent. 

Labour MP Louisa Wall has a Member's Bill that would fix it. 

"If you post someone's image in a sexually compromised position without their consent it is in and of itself harmful," Wall told Newshub.

The National Party has some fixing of its own to do, particularly to address its vetting process. 

"Well, that's one of the things that was part of the review and that is actually happening now so I fully support that," Collins told Newshub. 

Newshub understands concerns were raised about Bezzant during last year's election campaign when questions were swirling around embellishments on his CV.

National's campaign team came to the conclusion he should go.

"I think you'd need to take that back to the party president," Collins said when asked about it. "It is not something I can really comment on because I was out campaigning, as you know."

Newshub has been told party president Peter Goodfellow shut down the concerns, making it clear it was a party matter, not a campaign one.

"You'll have to talk to the party about that," Collins said. "He was selected well before I became the leader and I think too the party acknowledges and has acknowledged that they're redoing the way that they vet."

Newshub understands the leadership was very unhappy about it.

Goodfellow provided a statement to Newshub acknowledging some concerns were raised about Bezzant mid-last year. 

"After Mr Bezzant's selection as a candidate in 2019, some concerns were raised in mid-2020 solely relating to previous commercial business matters, and we thoroughly investigated them at the time when they were brought to our attention. 

"This included questioning Mr Bezzant and talking to people involved in the business in question. We found insufficient evidence to substantiate the concerns raised, therefore considered the matter closed."