25 Jun 2017

National President backs Board over Barclay saga

9:46 am on 25 June 2017
A protest sign references Bill English's handling of Todd Barclay's employment dispute.

A protester at the National Party conference in Wellington references Bill English's handling of Todd Barclay's employment dispute. Photo: RNZ / Jane Patterson

The President of the National Party says he backs his board as acting with integrity and professionalism throughout Todd Barclay affair.

The party is in Wellington this weekend for its election year conference, but all of the focus has been on the controversy that has engulfed National this past week.

Allegations about MP Todd Barclay secretly recording an electorate staffer, Glenys Dickson, appear to have cost him his political career.

Prime Minister Bill English has also come under intense scrutiny for his role in what began as a employment dispute, and has ended up a full-blown political scandal.

Another part of the story is the involvement of National Party Board members, and whether any of them contacted Ms Dickson about dropping her complaint to police.

National Party President Peter Goodfellow said part of the Board's responsibility was to keep in touch with party members.

"And I'm aware that certainly other directors have spoken to people in Clutha-Southland, but I'm not all over who has spoken to whom but there would have more than one director talk to Glenys, I'm sure."

He was asked whether Ms Dickson was asked to drop her police complaint in any of those conversations.

"Oh no, well I mean I have complete confidence in the directors that they would have acted entirely appropriately in any discussions but talked to her about what the options were."

He was also asked if he was aware of any Board members acting against Mr Barclay, of the Clutha-Southland seat.

"I mean, it's been a very divided electorate for a while and really [the] Board's responsibility is to try to create the unity in the party rather than anything else."

He said the suggestion any Board members took sides was "far too strong a term" to use.

Mr Goodfellow said any discussions between individuals and the Board about what had gone on were private matters and it would not appropriate for him to discuss any details in the media.

"But as we have with any situation where there might be tension in the party we'll try to find a solution to it."

National Party President Peter Goodfellow

National Party President Peter Goodfellow said he backed his Board over the handling of an electorate staffer's employment dispute. Photo: SUPPLIED

He was confident members of the Board had acted with integrity and professionalism in all of their dealings with party members in Clutha-Southland, and anyone else involved in the dispute.

When approached at the annual conference and asked whether she contacted Ms Dickson about the police complaint, one of the Board members, Glenda Hughes, referred RNZ to a statement issued by Mr Goodfellow last last week.

"And I have nothing further to add, that statement is correct and that's the final thing that I have to say on it.

"Board members should not speak, you'd need to go to the President on this - OK?"

Ms Hughes walked off without commenting when it was put to her the statement did not address whether or not there had been any discussions with Glenys Dickson about her police complaint.

A new candidate now has to be selected for the Clutha-Southland seat.

Mr Goodfellow said under party rules all of the electorate branches were required to hold a Special General Meeting to give people the opportunity to put themselves forward.

The Board is working with the electorate to decide on a date for the final selection, and that date could be decided tomorrow.

It is likely to be a shortened process because of the proximity to the election, but Mr Goodfellow said it was unlikely there would be a candidate in place by the time the party list is released at the end of June.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs