Tangled National love triangle

THE under-fire National Party president has shacked up with the socialite wife of the man poised to succeed him if he is forced from the role.

Recently appointed Peter Goodfellow has spent the last fortnight saying nothing as calls mount for him to step down from his position.

Now Sunday News can reveal that Goodfellow lives with Desley Simpson, the wife of Scott Simpson who is likely to fight for his job should he stand down.

Rich lister Goodfellow assumed the National Party's reins three weeks ago when Judy Kirk stood down.

Just days after securing the presidency, reports came that Goodfellow's role was under threat as the party faithful grew concerned National's reputation may be damaged should he stay.

Prime Minister John Key a close friend of Goodfellow is expected to meet the president today to discuss recent events.

Last weekend the PM told Sunday News he had "100%" confidence in Goodfellow who previously described himself as "a safe pair of hands".

Key's position is understood not to have changed but close friends of Goodfellow said the president was not "as upbeat or confident as he usually is when he is sure of something".

The two leading contenders for party presidency were Goodfellow and fellow board member Simpson.

Several well-placed National sources said that if Goodfellow, whose family is 16th on NBR's 2009 Rich List with a wealth of $550 million, was to be moved from his position, Simpson would likely fight for the job.

That chain of events is ironic as Sunday News today reveals that Simpson's wife, Desley, has been in a relationship with Goodfellow since September last year.

Desley, an Auckland socialite with monied connections, is chairwoman of the Hobson Community Board. National board member Kate Hazlett said it wasn't "unusual for love triangles to happen in politics, especially Auckland". She said while she had "no problems" with Goodfellow she understood Simpson wanted his job one day.

"That is definitely something he is keen on," Hazlett said.

Goodfellow is currently living with Desley and her two children at a $1.2 million mansion in Remuera, Auckland. Simpson lives alone in the same suburb while Goodfellow's estranged wife, Elizabeth Black, remains nearby in Kohimarama.

Goodfellow and Black met in 1983 and married seven years later.

They have not lived together since March last year. Sunday News obtained an email Goodfellow sent his wife in September last year in which he said their relationship was over. In it, Goodfellow confirms he has started going out with someone else earlier in the month.

Simpson told Sunday News he was aware his wife was in a relationship with the man who beat him in the race for president but was unfazed.

"My former wife and I separated four or five years ago and we have almost zero contact and that's just the way it is.

"Her personal life is her personal life and it has nothing to do with me." Asked for a view on Goodfellow, Simpson said "see you later" and hung up.

Goodfellow and Desley did not return Sunday News' calls.

Sunday News