Face of the day

National Party leader Simon Bridges’ explanation of the removal of an online petition is in question with a junior staffer alleging media were lied to.

Our sources tell us that the ” junior staffer” was thrown under the bus by the party and that he is neither “junior” nor was he “emotional.”

Apparently Jamie Gray the Chief of Staff accused him of inappropriate behaviour and then set about trying to do a Jami Lee Ross on him

The staffer decided he wasn’t having a bar of that and has lawyered up. At some point the caucus may wonder why the leadership keeps telling lies.

The saga began in the immediate hours after the Christchurch terror attack.

The staffer, who Stuff has decided not to name, was upset that the National Party still had a petition online concerning the UN migration pact, which was mentioned by the alleged killer.

The sources understood that the staffer asked a member of Bridges’ press team whether to delete it or not – and then deleted it when no answer was forthcoming.
When the petition’s absence was noted, the party told both Newsroom and The Spinoff that the petition had been archived “weeks ago” as part of a routine clean-up. Newsroom had already reported the petition was deleted recently but following a conversation with a party spokesperson had corrected their story after being told the deletion pre-dated the attack.


This was proved false the following Tuesday when cached records made clear the petition was still live on the Friday afternoon.

Bridges explained this to media as a mistake, saying an “emotional junior staffer” took down the petition on Friday night, but his media team had believed it had been removed as part of a routine clear-up.

[…] Both of the sources who talked to Stuff believed this was false,
because a press secretary had been informed by the staffer that he wanted to delete the petition.

[…] after the staffer took his concerns about the mismatch in facts to Bridges’ chief of staff Jamie Gray he found himself the subject of a dispute, with Parliamentary Service soon involved, the sources said.

One of the sources said Gray had accused the staffer of “serious misconduct” and began an investigation into the claims he made about lying to the media.
He is now out of the office on leave.