Sam Uffindell to return to National caucus after report doesn't back up allegation

Tauranga MP Sam Uffindell will return to the National Party caucus after a report into his behaviour at university didn't substantiate an allegation against him.

National President Sylvia Wood told reporters on Monday afternoon that an investigation into Uffindell's behaviour "did not substantiate any allegations of bullying outside of [his] time at King's College". He has previously apologised for his actions while at high school, including for beating up a younger student.

With regards to the alleged 2003 incident at a flat while Uffindell was at university, there are "differing accounts" of what happened, the report said, but Maria Dew KC found it didn't happen as was described in some media reports.

It was alleged Uffindell acted aggressively towards a flatmate. Uffindell said there was a breakdown within the flat, but denied that he intimidated her. Wood said it was "clear the complainant's experience in a deteriorating flat relationship caused her harm".

Uffindell on Monday said he welcomed the report's findings.

"I want to acknowledge that there was a genuine breakdown in the flat relationship and things were said that I now realise my flatmate overheard. I apologise and regret my part in that," he said. 

He wouldn't say what those "things" were. He hasn't spoken to the individual in the flat since.

There were no other allegations raised during the investigation, Wood says.

"I am pleased that Ms Dew's report provides us with the ability to now move forward," Wood said.

Fourteen people were interviewed during the investigation, while written statements were also made. The actual report isn't being released publicly.

"The investigation has found there are differing accounts of an incident that happened 20 years ago in the context of a student flat that was breaking up. Mr Uffindell has acknowledged that things were said that he now realises his flatmate overheard, which he regrets," said National leader Christopher Luxon.

"Mr Uffindell has also publicly acknowledged that he was a bully at King's College and that this behaviour harmed a number of people, for which he has apologised."

Uffindell was stood down from caucus on August 9. Stuff initially reported that Uffindell had to leave King's College after attacking a 13-year-old student when he was 16 years old. The Tauranga MP fronted a press conference and conceded he had been a bully at high school. However, hours later, reports emerged about the alleged incident at university.

Luxon on Monday acknowledged "the people who have been hurt or harmed by Sam's past behaviour". He said he was disturbed by the flat allegation, but the report didn't back up what was described.

"I have never tolerated bullying in any team or workplace I have led and since becoming our leader, I have made clear my expectations about the behaviour and conduct I expect from all of our MPs and members.

"I also believe in forgiveness and second chances and if someone can demonstrate a genuine understanding of their behaviour and the way it has negatively impacted others and can then show they have become a better person, they deserve a second chance."

Luxon said he doesn't believe Uffindell is still a bully.

The report was initially only meant to take two weeks to be completed. However, Dew needed more time to finish her investigation. The National Party received it late last week. 

"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. "Consistent with confidentiality undertakings given, the report will not be made public."

Uffindell was elected as MP for Tauranga in June after Simon Bridges resigned from the position. 

While Uffindell made the National Party pre-selection committee aware of the King's College attack ahead becoming the party's candidate, leader Christopher Luxon wasn't informed and Uffindell never spoke about it publicly while during the campaign.

While suspended from the caucus, Uffindell continued to act as an electorate MP. He admitted on Monday it was unwise to appear in a photo over the weekend wearing a National rosette at an event.