An inquiry report today cleared Judith Collins of the allegation that cost her job.
The inquiry looked into only one specific allegation – that she was working with Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater to get rid of former Serious Fraud Office (SFO) boss Adam Feeley. Now Ms Collins has turned on Slater.
Ms Collins has set up her backbench office with all the home comforts, including a target practice poster, with her own bullet holes through it. But it was the allegation that Ms Collins was gunning for Mr Feeley that cost her job.
Today the conclusion was there's no evidence to back the claim up.
"I'm really grateful the truth has come out," says Ms Collins.
Ms Collins' resignation was sparked after an email emerged in the heat of the election campaign, which suggested Ms Collins was part of the plan to take down Mr Feeley, who had been making headlines about a questionable office party.
The inquiry has uncovered more emails from Slater and a timeline, revealing on October 2, 2011 Ms Collins called Slater for nearly 15 minutes. A day later Slater sent an email saying Ms Collins was livid and wanted Mr Feeley gone, before sending another email that day saying "on the quiet Collins is gunning hard for [Mr Feeley]".
On October 5 Ms Collins again called Slater, and that night he sent an email saying, "I spoke at length with the minister responsible today [Ms Collins]. She is gunning for Feeley."
Finally on October 7, Slater sent his final email: "Spoke to Crusher. She wants him gone."
But the inquiry found no evidence to back up Slater's emails, saying his claims were embellished versions of the truth.
"He has made some very serious mistakes, which are outlined in the inquiry," says Ms Collins. "I have been let down. He has apologised, and that's where I'm going to leave it."
The report did find current and former staff of the SFO were part of a campaign to undermine Mr Feeley. Slater, blogger Cathy Odgers and PR consultant Carrick Graham were all involved in trying to bring Mr Feeley down.
Prime Minister John Key is now leaving the door open for a return to Cabinet for Ms Collins. Slater wouldn't comment to 3 News.
The report was always likely to clear Ms Collins. Despite serious allegations raised in Dirty Politics about the relationship between Slater and Ms Collins, it only looked at this single narrow issue of Mr Feeley.
Ms Collins can now begin manoeuvring to return to Cabinet.
source: newshub archive