Sam Uffindell saga a 'big wake-up call' for National Party, political commentator says

The saga surrounding bullying allegations against Tauranga MP Sam Uffindell has been "a big wake-up call" for the National Party, a political commentator believes.

The National MP was welcomed back into the party's caucus on Monday, having been stood down after allegations of bullying in his younger years emerged - first at high school and then at university.  

A former flatmate of Uffindell, who lived with him in 2003, had alleged aggressive behaviour and excessive drinking by the MP.

But an independent investigation by Maria Dew KC cleared him of bullying at the Dunedin flat.

"The investigation concluded that Sam did not engage in the serious behaviour towards his flatmate that was alleged in the media," National Party leader Christopher Luxon told reporters on Monday. "Sam has been fully reinstated to our caucus."

Uffindell on Monday acknowledged a "genuine breakdown" in relationships amongst the flatmates.

"Things were said that I now realise my flatmate overheard - I apologise and regret my part in that," he said.

"My focus now is on continuing to work hard and deliver for the great people of Tauranga."

While he was cleared of the allegations, there were concerns about why the National Party didn't act on information Uffindell gave them in the first place. 

Uffindell initially came under fire after revelations he violently assaulted another boy when he was 16 and attending Auckland's King's College - information he disclosed to a National Party selection panel but was not passed on to Luxon. 

"There's a big wake-up call, again, for the National Party organisation in this," said Trish Sherson, a right-leaning political commentator and former ACT Party staffer. "It was their selection process that went awry, it was them that didn't tell the leader about this and I imagine that both Uffindell and the National Party are on notice with Christopher Luxon now.

"[Uffindell] declared it - the party at that point should've said, 'OK, even if we think he's the best candidate, let's refer this upstairs, get some additional eyes and thinking on it' and then if you really wanted to go forward, you would've declared that during the campaign," Sherson told AM.

Political scientist Lara Greaves, appearing alongside Sherson, said the pathway back would be a difficult one for Uffindell.

"Say he… becomes a minister, is he then a distraction? Is he always going to be that guy that people think about and associate with bullying?

"This is so soon into his political career. We've seen people in the past move past things like David Benson-Pope in the 2000s but that was also a different time… we have different attitudes in society to bullying and that sort of thing now," Greaves told AM fill-in host Amanda Gillies. 

Uffindell on Monday welcomed Dew KC's findings.

"I was genuinely shocked by the allegations of a former female flatmate in 2003," Uffindell said.

"Ms Dew found this incident did not occur as it was reported in the media."

Luxon said he believed in "forgiveness and second chances".

"On behalf of the party, I want to thank Ms Dew for her diligent, professional and impartial work, and also thank all those who participated as complainants, witnesses and referees," said Luxon on Monday.

However, Luxon and National refused to make the report public

Uffindell only picked up the Tauranga seat in June following Simon Bridges' resignation. That resignation sparked a by-election that Uffindell won convincingly

The Tauranga seat has been held by the National Party since 1938, apart from the period between 1993 and 2005 after Winston Peters won the electorate as an independent before forming the NZ First party.