As it happened: Simon Bridges says Jami-Lee Ross has defamed him and 'he is a liar'

Relive 1 NEWS NOW's live update of a turbulent day for the National Party

6.11pm: Bridges said: "It was the right thing to do the leak investigation and to bring these issues, the lies, the inappropriate conduct, the disloyalty, frankly the putting himself before all others and the National caucus and I would argue New Zealanders, to bring those things to the fore.

"I won't stand, I didn't stand for what he's done and I'm glad as are all of my colleagues to a person that he is no longer part of out caucus."

6.05pm: Bridges said the tape "doesn't back in any way shape or form his lies to you over the last 24 hours or so. Quite the reverse. There are a number of donations there from a number of individuals.

"The reality is, I believe, Jami-Lee Ross has been secretly taping me consistently for many, many months. It's a monumental breach of trust. That's on top of the many other things that he has done."

5.47pm: Bridges said: "On 14 May I attended a dinner with Mr Zhang Yikun and that is because Jami-Lee Ross knew him very well and was incredibly keen that I do that. On the 21st of May I attended a fundraiser for Paul Goldsmith and there Mr Zhang was present. He told me that he and his supporters wanted to donate a large sum of money, I think around $100,000. And I thanked him and I made clear that that is something Jami-Lee Ross should deal with.

"I then that evening let Jami-Lee Ross know that because of his friendship with Mr Zhang, the fact he knew him very well, and also because of his deep experience and I would argue expertise in relation to electoral matters and collecting and organising a lot of money and fundraising."

5.46pm: National Party leader Simon Bridges says outgoing MP Jami-Lee Ross has defamed him and is a liar. 

After reinforcing his apology to MP Maureen Pugh for calling her "f****** useless" in a phone conversation with Ross, released by him this afternoon, Mr Bridges said: "He has defamed me and he is a liar."

"As I've said before I have done absolutely nothing wrong and that has been shown demonstrably to be the case today with that secret recording."

Mr Ross yesterday quit as National MP, forcing a by-election in his Botany seat and accused Mr Bridges of breaking electoral law by asking him to split a $100,000 donation into smaller amounts so didn't have to be declared. This came after Mr Bridges earlier this week named Mr Ross him as the leaker of his travel expenses.

5.40pm: Simon Bridges is addressing media, denying allegations he made earlier today

5.20pm: In the recorded phone conversation released by Ross, he and Bridges discuss the number of Chinese candidates on the National Party list. 

Bridges: "Two Chinese would be nice, but then would it be one Chinese, one Filipino? What do we do?" 

Ross: "Two Chinese would be more valuable than two Indians I have to say." 

Bridges: "Yeah, which is what we've got at the moment right. But then the problem then is you end up in a shit fight because you've got a list MP, you've got two list MPs and yeah, it's a pretty mercenary cull."

5.07pm: Bridges has tweeted that he has just met with Maureen Pugh "and unreservedly apologised for my comment. It was inappropriate. I value the work she does as the National List MP based in West Coast-Tasman & as our Associate Spokesperson for Children. She has gracefully accepted".

This follows a comment by Bridges in his phone conversation with Ross, which Ross has released this afternoon.

Bridges said in the tape: "I reckon two or three of our MPs who, I'm not thinking of obvious ones like Finlayson or Carter, but actually we just want them to go. Maureen Pugh is f****** useless."

4.59pm: Here's an excerpt of the discussion between Ross and Bridges about the donation.

Ross: "The money's fine sitting there in the Botany account. I just thought if, I don't know what your arrangement with Goodfellow is or not. That's all."

Bridges: "I need to talk to him. I can actually see him tonight."

Ross: "I, I don't think.

Bridges: "I wonder if I should."

Ross: "I don't think we can."

Bridges: "I should wait and get the right words."

Ross: "Yeah. I don't think we can raise tens of thousands and completely ah keep him out of the loop. Maybe if you're just honest with him about it.

Bridges: "No we can't. Oh I think that's right. Look, I'll, I'll raise it with him. Ah but we should probably just think it through."

4.30pm: The conversation between the two, released by Ross this afternoon, mainly focuses on the $100,000 donation from the Chinese businessmen. There is lots of discussion from Bridges about whether he should tell party president Peter Geoodfellow about it. There does not appear to be any discussion about splitting the donations.

The two then talk about MPs who the party may want to get rid of, the advantage of MPs from certain races, including Chinese and Indian, and Bridges describes list MP Maureen Pugh as "f***ing useless".

4.15pm Wellington Central Police have confirmed they've received a complaint regarding the disclosure of political donations under the Electoral Act.

"The information supplied will be assessed by a Detective Senior Sergeant at Police National Headquarters to determine what further steps may be required from a police perspective," police say in a statement.

4.10pm: Mr Ross has released audio he promised he would of himself and Simon Bridges discussing the $100k donation.

View the full audio here

Below is a rundown of Jami-Lee Ross talking to media after emerging from the Wellington Police Station:

3.41pm: Jami-Lee Ross says he will release a recording on his Twitter account. 

Read the overview of Jami-Lee Ross talking to media after emerging from the Wellington Police Station. 

Jessica Mutch McKay says Simon Bridges faces a "long, drawn out and embarrassing process to try and get rid of him".
Source: 1 NEWS

3.39pm: Mr Ross says he did not have a conversation with the donor of $100,000.

3.38pm: He alleges Simon Bridges knew what Cathedral Club was initially. Mr Bridges denies all allegations from Mr Ross. 

3.33pm: Jami-Lee Ross says he does not have evidence to back up his allegations that National leader asked him to break up a $100,000 donation. Simon Bridges denies all allegations. 

3.32pm: "I know that there is smears about me at the moment," he says. "I'm not going to play that."

3.30pm: Mr Ross says he does not know what Paula Bennett is referring to when she says he acted inappropriately for a married man. 

3.29pm: He says he is not currently paying Simon Lusk for his advice. 

3.27pm: Mr Ross says the police now have "all the information" that he claims he has. 

3.25pm: Mr Ross says the allegations against him were "devastating", and he had mental health episode but is now well. 

3.21pm: Mr Ross says he thought Paula Bennett "was better than that", in regards to the deputy National leader claiming he behaved inappropriately for a married man. 

"They can call me a liar if they want, but you'll see very soon."

3.19pm: Mr Ross says he played a recording he claims has himself and Mr Bridges discussing matters around the donation, to police. "I will provide that to you very soon." Mr Bridges has denied all allegations. 

3.18pm: Jami-Lee Ross said police would be investigating. "It's up to decide what happens with the law and the Electoral Act.

3.16pm: He says he spoke to three detective senior sergeants. He said he outlined his concerns and talked about the $100,000 donation and his allegations around it. 

3.10pm: Jami-Lee Ross has emerged from the Wellington Police station. 

1pm: Jami-Lee Ross has entered the Wellington Police Station to make an official complaint against National leader Simon Bridges.

jami-lee ross
Source: 1 NEWS

He said he would today be releasing a recording he claims is a conversation with himself and Mr Bridges about alleged electoral fraud. Mr Bridges has denied all allegations. 

Background: 

1 NEWS political editor Jessica Mutch McKay spoke to Breakfast this morning about the explosive allegations and its threat to Mr Bridges’ leadership. Source: Breakfast

It comes after a dramatic series of events. Yesterday, the now-independent MP made allegations against the Opposition leader, who in turn denied all claims. 

The Botany MP resigned, ahead of what is set to be a captivating by-election where he says he'll stand as an independent. 

For the full run down, read 1 NEWS' overview.