Rogue Labour MP Gaurav Sharma has broken his silence and he's made more explosive claims - this time about the Prime Minister's office.
Dr Sharma was suspended from Labour's Caucus on Tuesday, but fresh questions are now being raised as to whether that outcome was decided at a secret meeting the night before.
The Hamilton West MP has come out swinging - in fact, he's hit the nuclear button. He's accusing the Prime Minister and her office of a "cover-up" and says the Labour Party held a "Kangaroo Court" to decide his fate.
He's also played Newshub a recording of another MP saying to him the outcome of the caucus meeting in which he was suspended was predetermined the night before.
The timeline here is crucial.
- On Thursday, August 11, Dr Sharma wrote a column in the NZ Herald making bullying claims.
- On Tuesday, August 16, Labour held a special caucus meeting after which it was announced Dr Sharma would be suspended.
- But the night before, that's the night of Monday, August 15, the entire caucus - excluding Dr Sharma - met to discuss the rogue MP.
After that meeting, Dr Sharma received a phone call from someone who was in the secret meeting to warn him that what we would face next day would be "brutal".
He's now broken his silence to Newshub.
Asked what he believes the Prime Minister is trying to hide Dr Sharma said: "There is something very big going on here and there is a cover-up".
Dr Sharma has not spoken publicly since he was suspended from the Labour Party - not even to the Prime Minister - but he's speaking to Newshub. He's got a lot to get off his chest.
"I'm here now speaking up again, because I'm being silenced once again, after having going through it for one-and-a-half years," he said.
Dr Sharma torpedoed his party into scandal, drip-feeding drama for the past week until his caucus unanimously voted to suspend him on Tuesday.
He's now come to Newshub with evidence and at least one of his colleagues backs him. It's a secret recording Dr Sharma took of an MP who recounted Monday night's secret Labour meeting - a meeting that excluded him.
"I was genuinely hurt by that," Dr Sharma said.
Newshub knows the identity of the MP, but revoiced the recording to protect their identity. The MP tells Dr Sharma his fate was sealed at the meeting.
"It's all predetermined. This is purely just to get them where they want to be, which is for caucus to be aware that a decision will need to be made and that it will be, it's gonna be to whack you," the MP said.
Dr Sharma told Newshub on Thursday: "It's a Kangaroo Court, it's a banana republic. The decision was already made the night before."
In response to Newshub's queries, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister said: "On Tuesday the Caucus suspended Gaurav on the basis of repeated breaches of trust. This latest example of releasing and misrepresenting conversations with his colleagues reinforces that decision and will be discussed by caucus".
"As the Prime Minister said on Tuesday we anticipated Gaurav would continue to re-litigating matters in this way. He has still not responded to our communications about entering into mediation, instead using the media to make his points."
Earlier this week, the Prime Minister was adamant there was no predetermination.
"You have my assurance and word here, it would not have been in the rules to make any pre-determination," said Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday. "We wouldn't and we didn't."
Asked if he thinks Ardern misled the public when she said that, Dr Sharma told Newshub: "Definitely".
The Prime Minister has made plain Dr Sharma himself was being managed due to staffing issues. Several allegations of bullying have been made against him.
Dr Sharma said he completely refutes "every single one of them".
"That's what I've been saying," he said.
All Dr Sharma wants out of this is an investigation into bullying claims, something the MP who phoned him said he was not going to get.
"She doesn't want to be opened up to QC investigation or anything that could put the gaze on any other issue or any other colleagues. They want it squarely on you," the MP said.
Asked if he thinks they're afraid of what an investigation will find, Dr Sharma said: "Oh yes, any public inquiry into this will dig up more things". He said he was not worried what an investigation would find about himself.
The Prime Minister has pointed to a mediation process instead.
But Dr Sharma doesn't intend to take part in mediation.
"No, I want a public inquiry which will hold people to account. Because, as we've seen now, it's just a Kangaroo court."
The MP on the recording accuses his colleague of bullying.
"Those guys are bullies. No two ways around it."
Newshub asked Dr Sharma who they believe the MP was referring to.
"He's talking about the leadership of the Labour Party."
Asked if he means Ardern and deputy leader Kelvin Davis, Dr Shamra said: "At least one of them is on TV everyday saying there's nothing is wrong".
Dr Sharma is taking aim at the Labour Party's pride and joy, the Prime Minister, accusing her of creating a cover-up culture.
"This is the Prime Minister's Office trying to cover something, this is the Prime Minister trying to cover something. And I'm saying this is not just about bullying. There is a lot more to here."
Another explosive claim from Dr Sharma is that he said the MP intake of 2020 were recently forced to attend a workshop ahead of election year where they were coached on how to handle information.
"One was obviously, shut up, don't talk about anything. Not about this, but anything. Don't say anything for which the Prime Minister has to stand up and do a media stand-up. But also, how not to get an OIA'd issue, so how to talk to somebody without having a track record of it so nobody could track it down the road."
Dr Sharma alleges staff in the Prime Minister's Office wear two employment hats and pick which one they're wearing when they receive information.
"They said the staffing arrangements are done in a way that some staff work part-time for Labour Leader's Office and part-time for Prime Minister's Office and when they want to prevent OIA, they just sort of make it that this is Labour Leader's problem, this is not the Prime Minister's office problem and then they can get away with it."
Newshub asked Dr Sharma if he was comfortable with that.
"No, not at all. This is what I'm saying," he said.
Asked if he believes the whole thing is set up to prevent any tracking of these issues being raised, Dr Sharma said: "Well, you tell me then. That's literally what's happening. And I have had to write that".
On Tuesday, the Prime Minister said Dr Sharma was on his last strike. But on Thursday, he struck again.
He's aware it may leave Labour with no option but to expel him.
"Yeah, what I'm asking is [for] a fair trial and that's what I'm focussed on."
He also doesn't think he will regret it.
"No, why should I regret it? … Why should I be the one hiding my face. I haven't done anything wrong."