A high-class Australian escort says she is "helping" police investigating the sudden and unexplained death of Remuera woman Pauline Hanna.
The Melbourne escort, Madison Ashton, who is also known as Christine McQueen, claims she and Hanna's husband had been "boyfriend and girlfriend for more than three years".
Six months on from Hanna's death, friends and colleagues are flabbergasted by husband Philip Polkinghorne's alleged long-distance relationship with the Australian escort.
One friend claimed Hanna was open about swinging with Polkinghorne and hiring male escorts. "It's not fair to judge other people's relationships as long as it works for them. The thing we still don't know is what happened to Pauline."
Hanna, 63, died at her home in the Auckland suburb of Remuera on Easter Monday. She worked at Counties Manukau District health board as an executive project director and was involved in the Covid-19 vaccine rollout.
Pauline Hanna and Philip Polkinghorne in 2018. Photo / Norrie Montgomery
Police are still investigating the circumstances around her death, which authorities are treating as unexplained. As part of their investigation, police raided a South Island luxury lodge where Ashton and Polkinghorne were staying in May.
Polkinghorne, an Auckland eye specialist, has previously told the Herald he was being treated as a "person of suspect" by police in their investigation.
Police have interviewed dozens of people in relation to Hanna's death including a barber and a female masseuse known to her husband.
At the weekend Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper revealed Ashton was also being spoken to by police.
Madison Ashton and Philip Polkinghorne. Photo / supplied
The former mistress of the late cardboard king billionaire Richard Pratt, Ashton claimed she had an intimate relationship with Polkinghorne.
Ashton claimed she met Polkinghorne in 2011 when he and Hanna booked a "sex romp" with her during a trip to Sydney.
She claimed the couple "used her services a number of times" when they visited the city.
And she claimed they visited other sex workers.
Ashton told the Herald that she had spoken to police in New Zealand as recently as last week.
The Herald Sun also reported that police searched a luxury $1725-a-night suite in a "remote" Mt Cook lakeside lodge where Ashton and Polkinghorne were staying in May.
The newspaper said the pair were on a "lovers' holiday".
Ashton's phones were seized by New Zealand police are a raid on a luxury South Island lodge. Photo / Supplied
Police also searched a rental car used by the pair and took Ashton's phones, she told the Herald Sun.
Ashton told the Herald Sun she was willing to help police and the investigation and has nothing to hide.
"I am doing this to help her [Hanna]. It is one degree or no degree of separation really. But I would do this for anybody."
Police at the house where Pauline Hanna died. Photo / NZH
Ashton also spoke further about the night police arrived at the lodge.
The mother-of-two told the Herald Sun that she and Polkinghorne were having a "romantic room-service dinner" and drinking Champagne when officers arrived and "rummaged" through their belongings, searched the car Polkinghorne had rented for their vacation and seized her phones.
"I was thinking 'who the f*** are these people?'.
"I couldn't give them access to my phones – my client lists are confidential."
She said her phones were seized and not returned to her until some months later.
Ashton's lawyer Zali Burrows told the Herald her client was angry she was being treated like a "suspect".
Ashton told the Herald Sun her relationship with Polkinghorne started as professional and included Hanna.
But after "several years" he started booking her for solo sessions.
She said that in 2017 Polkinghorne took the relationship "from business to personal".
She was unaware that and and Hanna were still living together in their Remuera home "as a couple".
Ashton claimed she and Polkinghorne were "setting up a home in Sydney" and claimed he had taken a lease on a "luxurious, high-rise inner-city apartment" where she was living.
She continues to work as an escort.
On her return to Australia after this year's trip, Ashton told the Herald Sun she was the only person who was stopped at Melbourne airport and questioned for an hour and a half by Australian Border Force officers about where she had been and whom she had seen.
"There was a young man and he asked me if I had been in contact with anyone who is in trouble with the police. I knew this was a set-up then and there," Ashton said.
This week the sex worker told the Herald she is planning to tell her story on a weekly podcast.
"This has been a very difficult decision but I have to do the right thing for myself and for Pauline."
Polkinghorne did not respond to repeated requests for comment about his alleged relationship with Ashton.
The police investigation into Hanna's death is ongoing and Detective Inspector Aaron Pascoe would not be drawn on specifics.
"Police are continuing to investigate the circumstances of Pauline Hanna's sudden death, which we are still treating as unexplained," he said.
"Our inquiries remain ongoing and police will not be commenting on specifics of our ongoing investigation.
Another colleague of Hanna said they were "flabbergasted" by the Australian report.
"This doesn't sound like the person we knew. There is overwhelming sadness that her memory has been sullied in this way and we have extreme sympathy for Pauline's family," they said.
Another friend described Pauline as a professional woman who adored her family.