Former National Party president Michelle Boag says details about the Covid-19 patients were sent to her from the Ministry of Health, as the fallout from the leak puts intense pressure on National 74 days out from the election.
Ms Boag, who confirmed to 1 NEWS tonight that she was sent the data by the Ministry of Health, will no longer have any role in the party.
She passed the information on to MP Hamish Walker, who leaked it to media.
The disgraced Clutha-Southland MP is quitting politics.
National leader Todd Muller said the MP stepping down was the “only option”.
“Hamish has decided not to stand again for his electorate and I acknowledge that it was the right thing to do,” he said.
1 NEWS went knocking today, but the MP wasn't home.
But as the National Party board met to decide his fate, Mr Walker confirmed he was stepping down at the upcoming election.
It’s a brutal end to what was otherwise a promising career.
Locals in the MP’s electorate were quick to react.
“I think he's been a very silly boy, he hasn't done the party any good whatsoever,” said one.
“I think it's nasty...really nasty, it's not required, it's not necessary,” said another.
She spoke briefly to 1 NEWS Political Reporter Maiki Sherman, who asked about the motivation behind her passing on patient details to Mr Walker.
“No, as I said I'm not providing any further information at this point,” Ms Boag said.
Mr Walker had previously mentioned the former party president in his maiden speech.
“Michelle Boag, your wise words are really appreciated,” he said.
It's the first big test for the new National leader.
Politics professor Jennifer Lees-Marshment said so far he’d handled the issue well.
“It is a danger to the National Party brand, it is a threat to Muller's leadership, but he has handled it effectively in a way that might mean that it becomes a short term issue and goes away,” she said.