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Andrew Falloon and Judith Collins (Photos: RNZ)
Andrew Falloon and Judith Collins (Photos: RNZ)

PoliticsJuly 21, 2020

The Andrew Falloon saga: how it unfolded

Andrew Falloon and Judith Collins (Photos: RNZ)
Andrew Falloon and Judith Collins (Photos: RNZ)

National MP Andrew Falloon has resigned from parliament following allegations he sent unsolicited pornographic material to young women. Here’s what we know happened and when.

Tuesday July 14

9.45pm Judith Collins addresses the media after being elected the new leader of the National Party, replacing Todd Muller, whose shock resignation at breakfast time came after 53 days in the role. Collins promises to “crush the government”, saying she wouldn’t be putting up with Jacinda Ardern’s “nonsense”.

Wednesday July 15

The prime minister’s office receives an email from the parents of a teenager who had been sent unsolicited pornographic images by Andrew Falloon, the National member of parliament for Rangitata.

Friday July 17

The prime minister’s office, having briefed Jacinda Ardern on the matter and sought the permission of those who sent them the information, forward it on to the office of the leader of the opposition.

Saturday July 18

Judith Collins is informed by the prime minister’s chief of staff about the correspondence.

Monday July 20

Morning: Falloon meets with Collins in her office in Wellington, where he is confronted with the email. Collins also reaches out to the young woman involved to offer sympathy and to condemn Falloon’s actions.

2.04pm: A media statement is issued in Andrew Falloon’s name, via the office of the leader of the opposition, in which he announces his resignation from parliament as of the upcoming election. It will make him the 14th National MP to announce their departure over the course of this term. The statement reads:

“Today I spoke to National Party Leader Judith Collins to inform her I will not be contesting the upcoming election.

“As I noted in my maiden speech three years ago, when I was younger I lost three close friends to suicide. It was an extremely difficult period in my life. Unfortunately, recently, another friend took their own life, which has brought back much unresolved grief.

“I have made a number of mistakes and I apologise to those who have been affected.

“Recent events have compounded that situation and reminded me of the need to maintain my own health and wellbeing. I have again been receiving counselling.

“I want to thank Judith for her support during this time and I look forward to helping a new candidate in the Rangitata electorate in any way I can.

“I apologise for this disruption to my colleagues and to those I serve in Mid and South Canterbury.”

2.08pm: A statement in Judith Collins’ name is issued. It reads:

“Andrew Fallon has advised me that he will not be standing for re-election.

“The National Party was advised of an issue relating to Andrew late on Friday afternoon and we have dealt with it this morning.

“Andrew is suffering from significant mental health issues and his privacy, and that of his family, must be respected.”

Various parliamentary colleagues issue messages of support for Falloon on social media. It is reported by various media that the resignation stemmed from correspondence to the prime minister’s office.

4.15pm: At her post-cabinet press conference, Jacinda Ardern confirms that the news of the “incident” arrived via her office. “I was advised of the general nature of the correspondence,” she said. After permission was sought from the sender, it was forwarded to the leader of the opposition. This was “now a matter for the leader of the National Party” and her office acted appropriately, she said.

5.05pm: RNZ reports that the correspondence relayed information about pornographic images sent by the MP to a woman “who is not his wife”.

5.45pm: The NZ Herald reports that Falloon sent the pornographic images to a university student, a 19-year-old woman.

7.40pm: A police statement is issued. It reads:

“Police conducted an investigation after receiving a report of an individual sending an unsolicited image. The investigation determined it did not meet the threshold for prosecution. As such, no further action will be taken.”

8.03pm: The Herald says it “understands that Falloon’s version of events is that he was at a party several weeks ago and briefly left his phone unattended – and at that time acquaintances used it to send the sexual image in question”.

Tuesday July 21

7.20am: Stuff reports that it has seen evidence of Falloon sending pornographic images to another woman.

7.37am: Judith Collins tells Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB that she has just received an email from Andrew Falloon, “who has emailed me and Trevor Mallard, the speaker of the house, to advise that he has now resigned from parliament as at now”.

She said that Falloon had told her he had serious mental health issues and “did not disclose, when he was given the opportunity, any other incidences”. Now, “fresh allegations are starting to surface to me”, she said.

The suggestion that someone else had used his phone had not been offered up to her, said Collins, and was “clearly a lie”. She had “lost all confidence” in him.

“I am not a mental health expert,” said Collins. “But I have to take someone at their word when they’re sitting in my office telling me they have significant mental health issues and they have for some time, and they’re getting professional help and this is what is behind it.”

9.37am: Newshub reports having seen evidence of a third woman sent unsolicited pornographic images by Falloon.

9.45am: Responding to the fresh evidence of messages sent by Falloon, a National Party spokesperson tells reporters that “based on the apparent pattern of behaviour, Judith Collins expects there will be more to follow”.

10.50am: Speaking to reporters at parliament on her way in to caucus, Judith Collins said that Falloon’s account of events had “substantially changed” since she spoke with him on Monday morning, and that police had told her they were likely to reopen an investigation into his actions. “I believe he has lied to a lot of people,” she said. “Possibly including himself.”

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