Bridges continues to stonewall over MP's claims

One of the images posted by Ross. Photo: Supplied/Twitter
One of the images posted by Ross. Photo: Supplied/Twitter
National Party leader Simon Bridges is continuing to avoid answering some questions around allegations made by ousted MP Jami-Lee Ross into the handling of political donations.

The party today kicked out "lone wolf" Ross and said it would welcome a police inquiry into his "baseless" allegations of corruption.

Ross quit the party today, saying he planned to contest a Botany byelection as an independent candidate.

He also released photos of Bridges on Twitter at a private dinner with Chinese businessman Zhang Yikun.

Bridges fronted up to questions from Heather du Plessis-Allan on Newstalk ZB’s Drive Show this afternoon, refusing to directly answer about the donations.

The National Party leader was asked if he received a $100,000 donation from Mr Zhang, to which he said he wouldn’t “dignify” Ross’ claims.

“I think it’s incredibly important when we go through this stuff, what is it that actually Jami-Lee Ross at any level is saying what I’ve done wrong?” Bridges said.

Du Plessis-Allan continued to press Bridges on the topic, urging him to directly answer with a “yes or no” if he was offered the donation.

After dodging the question several times, Bridges concluded it was time for Ross to put his money where his mouth was and front up to his allegations.

“He should go to the police now, he should hand everything he has and he should make it public,” Bridges told Newstalk ZB.

“If he does that I will comply entirely with all of that and I know at the end of that there is absolutely zero chance of success because I’ve done nothing wrong.”

In a news conference at Parliament this morning, Ross claimed Bridges instructed him to break up the donation into smaller amounts to “hide it”.

Ross said the photos posted today show Bridges and Zhang at a private dinner on May 14 which he also attended.

He also posted a Facebook message from Paul Goldsmith showing photos of National party members and Zhang at a function.

"It was at this fundraiser on 21 May that Simon Bridges was offered the $100k donation. He called me later that evening with instructions to collect the funds."

Ross said he was not at that function.

Earlier today, Ross said Bridges asked him to collect a $100,000 donation which was then split into smaller amounts to allegedly "hide it".

Ross later asked Bridges about the donation, and recorded the conversation.

Ross said he will go to police on Wednesday to lay a complaint and allow them to hear the phone conversation with Bridges.

He stressed that he did not think that Zhang had done anything wrong.

Harassment accusations

Ross also said three weeks ago he met Bridges to discuss four independent accusations of harassment against women.

He said he was to be stripped of his portfolios and dumped on the backbenches, and when he tried to find out more information, Bridges threatened him.

“I asked for details. I was not given any ... He told me if I kept asking for natural justice, that it would not be just four women. It would be 15 women.”

This afternoon Bridges avoided direct questions from du Plessis-Allen, this time about the sexual harassment allegations against Ross.

“Did you or did you not say to him there were allegations from four women about sexual harassment?” she asked.

Bridges ignored the question and said, “this isn’t just about a leak investigation, actually there’s a serious pattern of behaviour in relation to Jami-Lee Ross”.

“I took that to caucus and I talked about those things and caucus had a strong discussion about those matters.

“I’m not though going to go through and detail for you what the inappropriate serious behaviour is because I don’t think that is in anyone’s interest.”

 

Ross posted two photos of Bridges and Yikun on Twitter saying it was at a private dinner on May 14 which he was also at.

Ross also posted a Facebook message from Paul Goldsmith showing photos of National party members and Yikun at a function.

"It was at this fundraiser on 21 May that Simon Bridges was offered the $100k donation. He called me later that evening with instructions to collect the funds," Ross said.

Ross said he was not at that function.

Earlier today, Ross said Bridges asked him to collect a $100,000 donation which was then split into smaller amounts to allegedly "hide it".

Ross later asked Bridges about the donation, and recorded the conversation.

Ross said he will go to police tomorrow to lay a complaint and allow them to hear the phone conversation with Bridges.

He stressed that he did not think the businessman had done anything wrong.

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