Former ACC minister Nick Smith fell on his sword today - and admits he doesn't know what he was thinking when he wrote letters on behalf of his friend.
In total Dr Smith wrote four letters about his long-time friend Bronwyn Pullar to ACC, and he admits two of those were inappropriate.
He says when he first became minister he mentioned his conflict of interest and thought that was enough.
But now he admits his actions were unwise and bells should have rung.
An almost tearful Nick Smith offered a round of apologies in Parliament today after announcing his resignation from Cabinet.
Dr Smith says he resigned all his portfolios because of a conflict of interest after he wrote a letter , while ACC Minister, on behalf of a friend who was fighting for a benefit from the corporation.
"I firstly want to again apologise to the Prime Minister, to my caucus colleagues, my family and staff. It is my intention to serve out this term as parliament. I love this place. I am disappointed I am not going to be able to continue my work in some of those areas I have a passion, but I apologise to all my fellow representatives for those misjudgements."
The Prime Minister says he's accepted Cabinet minister Nick Smith's resignation with sadness.
John Key says Dr Smith's been a hard working and diligent Minister but perceptions do matter and Dr Smith knows he's let himself down.
He says he's disappointed to have lost such a capable minister,
The former ACC Minister made the announcement at a media conference at Parliament after 2pm as speculation mounted about his future.
Dr Smith's admitted to a second conflict of interest involving ACC claimant Bronwyn Pullar - saying that's led to his resignation from Cabinet.
He says there was a letter written in 2010, that advocated on the former National Party official's behalf to then associate ACC Minister Pansy Wong.
Dr Smith says Ms Wong declared a conflict of interest and referred the letter back to him.
He then signed off on a formal response made by ACC without acknowledging his own conflict of interest.
Dr Smith says it's that error, and erring not once but twice, that has brought about his resignation.
Photo: NZ Herald