A new secret recording involving Jami-Lee Ross, Simon Bridges and Paula Bennett has been leaked.
In the clip, Mr Ross can be heard talking to National's leader and deputy leader about taking personal leave at the start of October.
Both Mr Bridges and Ms Bennett offer Mr Ross “the lightest possible way out” and promise not to reveal the nature of his alleged wrongdoing.
The discussion centres on whether family or medical reasons will be given as the explanation for his leave.
"And it (medical reasons) means everyone will back off you too - the media and all that sort of stuff," Ms Bennett can be heard saying.
Appearing on Breakfast shortly after the leak, Mr Bridges said the 20-minute conversation occurred about a week after they had initially met with Mr Ross and outlined the allegations of inappropriate behaviour against him.
“I obviously was dealing with a very complex, serious situation, I was balancing and trying to factor in the right thing in terms of inappropriate behaviour and destabilising conduct and the specialist medical advice I had, (around) health issues,” he said.
He denied covering up the allegations against Mr Ross, adding “we should hear the whole conversation rather than selective bits.”
In the recording, Mr Ross, who has been expelled from National but plans to return to parliament as an independent once he returns from sick leave, can also be heard asking for details on the harassment allegations.
Ms Bennett does not clarify, instead repeatedly referring to Mr Ross’ lack of loyalty.
"Simon told you all about the disloyalty stuff Jami-Lee, and quite frankly if that was put to caucus, that would be enough," Ms Bennett says.
"Well you do know what the disloyalty stuff is, and that's been put to you really clearly. If that was put to caucus, that would be enough, we are trying to give you the lightest possible way out of this."