Pressure is mounting on the Government over its choice of Christine Rankin for the Families Commission as it is dogged by controversy about her private life.
The decision came under further scrutiny yesterday, with Ms Rankin issuing a statement denying she had an affair with Kim MacIntyre, now her fourth husband, before the death of his former wife, high-profile Wellington real estate agent Margo McAuley. The couple married 71 days after Ms McAuley's death in October.
"Many think there was an affair. There was not," Ms Rankin said last night. "We did get married at the beginning of this year, and that may seem unusual to outside eyes.
"I feel devastated by her death, but I cannot tell my side of the story because to do so would be to expose details that are private to Margo."
The Dominion Post has been contacted by friends of Margo McAuley, who were angered by Ms Rankin's appointment as a families commissioner. One said Ms McAuley had a wide circle of friends, who had until now chosen to treat the matter as private. But Ms Rankin's decision last week to publicly defend her appointment by claiming a passion for New Zealand families was "disrespectful".
Prime Minister John Key and Social Development Minister Paula Bennett refused to comment ahead of today's Cabinet meeting, where the controversy may get a fresh airing. Their stance is in contrast to last week when Mr Key and Ms Bennett defended the appointment.
As we opined yesterday, the treatment of Rankin by the media has been extreme. We hope that the government will hold firm to its decision, and not buckle to the outrageous bile that has been spouted from those to the left of centre.