Paula Bennett stands by claim Ross acted inappropriately for a married man, during tense interview with Jack Tame

Source: 1News

National Deputy leader Paula Bennett stands by saying Jami-Lee Ross acted inappropriately for a married man but denies accusing him of sexual harassment.

Yesterday, as part of the extraordinary hour long stand-up in which he levelled a number of allegations at Simon Bridges and the National party, Mr Ross accused Ms Bennett of trying to scare him off with anonymous sexual harassment allegations.

Ms Bennett defended herself today, saying Mr Ross has mischaracterised a meeting they had.

“Well he came out yesterday and he said we’d made claims to him of sexual harassment and he likened himself to (US Supreme Court Justice) Brett Kavanaugh, which I found extraordinary in itself,” Ms Bennett said.

“So, he has characterised a meeting that I had with him quite incorrectly so all I was saying is that I had put inappropriate behaviour to him.”

READ MORE: John Armstrong's opinion: Jami-Lee Ross delivered one of parliament's most 'brutal, spiteful and disloyal diatribes'

Ms Bennett said she stood by telling media Mr Ross had acted inappropriately for a married MP.

“I wanted to make it very clear that it was not around sexual harassment.”

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Ms Bennett would not be drawn into specifics on the $100,000 donation from a Chinese businessman that Mr Ross accused Mr Bridges of asking him to split, claims Mr Bridges rejects.

“Jami-Lee Ross as he said himself, went and took the donation, so we’re trying to see what he’s actually done with it,” she said.

“The web that he’s woven does seem quite complex so we’re trying to work our way through that to see what he’s done with it.”

“I’m really reluctant to try and guess what’s happened and get it wrong for you, what I do know is that Simon Bridges has not taken that money and split it up and put in a false return.”

She echoed the views of the National party leader yesterday, saying Mr Ross should take his accusations to the police.

"He said 'he's going to go to the police', let's go to the police, let's get into the nuts and bolts of it," Ms Bennett said. 

"We’re very confident we’re going to come out of this alright." 

"Simon is adamant he has done nothing wrong, I believe him, I do not believe Jami-Lee Ross, he has told so many lies, he doesn’t know what the truth is anymore."

"I stand by leader, I believe him, he’s done nothing wrong."