5 Jun 2020

MP who was thrown out of bar to leave politics

4:01 pm on 5 June 2020

New Zealand First MP Clayton Mitchell will leave Parliament after the general election.

NZ First MP, Clayton Mitchell.

Clayton Mitchell says being an MP is among the best experiences of his life. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Mitchell first stood for Parliament in 2014 and has been a list MP based in Tauranga for two terms.

He made the headlines last October after an incident which resulted in him being thrown out of a Tauranga bar.

At the time Mitchell denied claims he had behaved badly - including accidentally hitting a female bar staffer with a glass - and said security "buffoons" had over-reacted in "forcefully" removing him and a friend from the Brew Co bar in Tauranga.

He described the allegations as "fake news" and refused to apologise, instead saying he expected an apology from the security guards who removed him from the bar.

Over the next few days New Zealand First leader Winston Peters defended his MP, saying security footage would exonerate him. He invited media to watch it but it was never produced.

Peters admitted he had not seen the video himself, but said he had been informed of its content by someone he had "enormous trust" in.

Mitchell said today he made the decision not to seek re-election after serious consideration.

"I have decided to pursue other passions in my life and spend a lot more time with my family.

"It has been one of the best experiences of my life and I'm greatly enriched for having the privilege of serving my country and being a part of the New Zealand First Party for the past six years," he said.

Mitchell said he told Peters in the middle of last year he was considering the move.

Peters expressed his wish for him to stay on, but ultimately understood his reasons for wanting to change his career, he said.

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