Collins disputes Peters' claim

HAMISH RUTHERFORD
Last updated 21:38 28/08/2014

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Justice Minister Judith Collins has said NZ First leader Winston Peters was wrong when he said one of her people approached him about negotiations after the election if she was National leader.

This evening Peters told TV3 he had "backdoor approaches myself from the Collins' camp... If you can't talk to [National leader] John Key after the election, can you talk to her?"

Peters believed the move was an attempt to undermine the prime minister which Collins was likely to be aware of.

"I didn't think the bag man was coming without her consent," Peters said.

Collins had previously said she was not responsible for what others did, but came out more strongly this evening.

"Winston Peters is wrong. I have never approached him nor have I asked anyone else to approach him," she said in a statement.

Asked yesterday if he believed Collins had always been loyal to him, the prime minister said: "All that I can demonstrate is what I know and the answer to that is yes."

Collins has been under pressure both over her dealings with a company on which her husband is a director while on an official visit to China, and more recently over her links to Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater.

She was considered to be a strong candidate to become National's next leader, although Key has been under pressure to sack her.

Tonight Peters stood by his claims.

"She would say that, wouldn't she?" Peters said of Collins statement.

While he would not say who it was approached him, Peters said he was approached "out of the blue".

"This person was commissioned by an MP in the National Party to make this approach."

He would not say the person was, but dismissed a question of whether it was Cameron Slater, saying he would not take the call.

He also dismissed a question of whether he would be willing to work in a Cabinet with Collins, saying it was "immaterial" because she should not be a minister.

"I do not believe any real leader would tolerate this sort of behaviour."




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