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New Zealand MP resigns over drunken row

13 May 2013, 12:12

Wellington - New Zealand Prime Minister John Key on Monday welcomed the resignation of a government politician who came under fire for drunkenly abusing a waiter during a night out.

National Party MP Aaron Gilmore announced he was quitting parliament late on Sunday, saying the fallout from his actions during a meal at an exclusive South Island restaurant last month had become too much to bear.

"I have made mistakes. I am human," Gilmore told reporters. "But the attacks on my integrity have started taking a toll on those around me and this is unfair on them."

One of Gilmore's dining companions, lawyer Andrew Riches, said the MP had remonstrated with the waiter when he refused to serve him any more alcohol, saying: "Don't you know who I am?", and calling the man a "dickhead".

Riches said Gilmore had threatened to have the prime minister's office sack the waiter, prompting the lawyer to write a letter to the restaurant apologising for his companion's behaviour.

Gilmore denied some of the details of Riches' allegations but admitted he was drunk and abused the waiter, saying his behaviour was rude and arrogant.

After initially refusing to resign, he fell on his sword after it became clear late last week that he had lost the support of the prime minister.

"The party's view on behaviour that's inappropriate was quite clear from day one," Key told TVNZ.

"I think he's made the right decision for himself and for his family. The pressure on Aaron would have been immense."

Gilmore will be replaced by another National Party member, leaving the parliamentary majority of Key's coalition government unchanged.



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