Judith Collins says Speaker Trevor Mallard's legal wrangle after false rape claim cost taxpayers $333,000

Source: 1News

National leader Judith Collins says Speaker Trevor Mallard spent $333,000 of taxpayers money settling a legal dispute after he incorrectly accused a parliamentary staffer of rape.

Collins says in response to written parliamentary questions, the amount spent was $333,641.70.

Of that, $158,000 was an ex-gratia payment to the former staffer to settle a legal claim, $171,000 was paid in fees to Dentons Kensington Swan and $4641.70 went to Crown Law for advice to the former Deputy Speaker.

Mallard had refused to say how much it had cost. 

“It is the Speaker’s job to set the standard of behaviour for everyone at Parliament but he has been reckless with his words, resulting in taxpayers footing a bill of more than $330,000 to clean up this mess," Collins said in a statement. 

“There has been no formal apology to Parliament for this, despite the National Party encouraging the Speaker to do so on the final sitting day this year.

“Because Mr Mallard has not lived up to the high standards of behaviour that he has set for Parliament, we believe he is no longer fit to hold the role of Speaker."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said she would not comment on the matter.

Mallard apologised last week when he accepted it was incorrect to describe allegations made in Parliament's 2019 bullying review as rape.

In May 2019, a five-month review into bullying and harassment in Parliament found harmful behaviour by and between staff, managers, MPs, media and the public.

The staffer took Mallard to court in January, alleging the Speaker had defamed him. The person sought $400,000 in general damages and $50,000 in punitive damages and court costs.

In a statement on June 26, Mallard said the case had totalled, at the time, $79.979.33. This was paid by the taxpayer.

1 NEWS has approached the offices of Mallard and the Prime Minister for comment.