'Diabolical' - Peters slams PM over Mallard diplomatic post; threatens lawsuit

By Will Trafford

Winston Peters says the appointment of parliament's controversial outgoing speaker Trevor Mallard to a European diplomatic post is an 'affront to both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and to New Zealand'. Photo / NZME

Former deputy prime Minister Winston Peters is slamming a decision by prime minister Jacinda Ardern to give parliament's outgoing speaker Trevor Mallard a diplomatic post, saying it was an 'affront to both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and to New Zealand'.

Peters says he's pursuing the speaker for redress after Mallard served the NZ First leader and a number of other former MPs with trespass notices during the COVID-19 protests at Parliament.

Lawyers for Peters had sent the speaker a letter seeking legal justification for the trespass notices also served to Former National MP Matt King, Former Act leader Rodney Hide, former Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox, and fellow former NZ First list MP Darroch Ball.

Peters speculated Mallard's resignation Monday during the prime Minister's cabinet reshuffle was a "cover up", and the PM acknowledging the "seriousness of the matter".

"If the Prime Minister didn't know [about the threat of legal action] then Mallard has deliberately kept this information from her," he said.

"If the Prime Minister did know, then there can be no other explanation other than this is an attempt to cover-up Mallard's behaviour and to allow the government to save face."

Shortly after serving the notices Mallard withdrew them saying he'd determined they were "no longer ... regarded as being a risk to the safety and security of others at Parliament".

Mallard resigned Monday and the Prime Minister announced he would be taking up a diplomatic post in Europe.

Asked today if she knew about Peter's threat of legal action against the speaker, the prime minister said Mallard hadn't spoken to her about it.

"Speaker Mallard indicated to me at the [2020] election that it was his intention over the course of the term to transition out of the role.

"Now is the time in the Speaker's view, and one that I share, for him to therefore transition and [Deputy Speaker] Adrian Rurawhe will be taking over that role if supported by the rest of house."

Peters says Mallard has brought the position of Speaker "into disrepute".

"The fact that both the Prime Minister and Mallard believe he is still suitable for a diplomatic post after his diabolical behaviour throughout his tenure, is an affront to both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and to New Zealand," he said.

The prime minister wouldn't be drawn on if legal action against the speaker would have any effect on his ascension to the European diplomatic post.