Jacqui Dean says it was not her intention for “past issues to be thrust into the spotlight”, after she was caught up in a high profile spat between Judith Collins and Simon Bridges that saw the former dumped as leader last week.
"I took no pleasure in being caught up in what was a political power-play that took attention away from the important issues of the day," Dean said on Facebook today.
Last Wednesday night saw Collins issue a statement demoting Bridges following what she said was a complaint around a serious misconduct allegation. The situation spurred a four-hour caucus meeting the next day, with Collins losing the leadership in a vote of no confidence by the MPs.
It was later revealed Bridges made an "inappropriate" comment in front of Dean about five years ago about conceiving a girl.
The statement said the National Party board provided unanimous support, however President Peter Goodfellow said it only supported an investigation.
Media were told Dean would be fronting with Collins at a 10am media conference on Thursday, but today it appears she is distancing herself from the former leader.
"Many of you will be well aware of the events that have taken place over what has been a long and brutal week in politics," Dean wrote on Facebook.
"It was certainly not my intention for past issues to be thrust into the spotlight as they were and I took no pleasure in being caught up in what was a political power-play that took attention away from the important issues of the day.
On Thursday, Dean released a statement saying Bridges made remarks about five years ago that upset her at the time.
“They were not about me, but they were inappropriate and not something I wanted to hear."
She said at the time there was an apology, “but subsequently it has continued to play on my mind and with the recent reviews that have occurred in Parliament the feelings have been brought back up”.
“What matters to me is that all of us have a clear understanding of what behaviour we should expect in a modern workplace environment. Simon and I have spoken a number of times over the past few hours and he has reiterated his apology.”
On Friday, Dean told the Otago Daily Times she had spoken to Collins a few weeks ago in her role as assistant Speaker, telling her about the experience in the context of the 2019 bullying and harassment review of Parliament.
After she was ousted, Collins tweeted that she "knew when I was confided in by a female colleague regarding her allegation of serious misconduct against a senior colleague, that I would likely lose the leadership by taking the matter so seriously".
"If I hadn’t, then I felt that I wouldn’t deserve the role."
Collins said she did not "ask for the allegation to be given to me".
National is expected to pick a new leader tomorrow, with Bridges and Christoper Luxon in the running.