National Party MP Nicola Willis says she felt ‘pretty yucky’ after hearing new allegations about embattled MP Sam Uffindell’s college days.
The MP for Tauranga was removed from office by party leader Christopher Luxon on Tuesday night pending an investigation into allegations of bullying behavior.
New allegations emerged Thursday morning that Uffindell and five other male students had lived in a filthy, vermin-infested apartment as a third-year student in 2004.
The Dundas Street flat had been visited three times by a Dunedin City Council health inspector, who raised concerns about rat urine and the accumulation of rubbish which was breeding ground for the insects and rats.
It also prominently featured a coat hook displaying women’s underwear as trophies.
Luxon confirmed he saw an image of the underwear first seen in an article in the Otago Daily Times.
“As the father of a daughter in college, [it’s] not great,” he said.
READ MORE: Opinion: Any outcome of the Uffindell scandal is a headache for National
Deputy party leader Nicola Willis told reporters on Thursday that she had also seen the image.
“Listen, I’m sure I’m not the only one who looked at the picture of the women’s underwear, in particular, I felt pretty yucky,” Willis said.
She said an independent inquiry ordered by Luxon into the allegations is a “very good course of action”.
“This allows allegations to be explored in depth and for alleged victims and others to ensure their views are considered.
“When this report is complete, Christopher Luxon will have an opportunity to review it and decide on next steps.”
Willis said that as the scandal around Uffindell deepens, she thinks he is “doing fine”.
“We made sure there was support around him. I don’t want to put words in his mouth.”
READ MORE: The ‘symptomatic’ Uffindell saga of bullying in New Zealand schools
READ MORE: Uffindell college roommate says she ‘didn’t feel safe’
READ MORE: ‘Serious and concerning’ new allegations against Uffindell – Luxon
Uffindell, 38, admitted on Tuesday that he joined three other people in an overnight assault on a young boy when he was 16. The incident led to his expulsion from the prestigious King’s College, Auckland.
It was followed on Wednesday by allegations of a woman who flattered Uffindell as a student at the University of Otago for several months in 2003. She told RNZ he was “verbally abusive” and that he ransacked the house after explosions of alcohol and drugs. .
She moved out after Uffindell started “breaking down my door and shouting obscenities and basically telling me to get out – ‘get on the road, fat’.”
“I ended up climbing out of my bedroom window and running to a friend’s house to spend the night. I feared for my safety. I was scared,” she said.
Uffindell said he “enjoyed a student lifestyle” at the University of Otago – drinking and sometimes smoking marijuana – but denied any accusations that he engaged in bullying or intimidating behavior.