27 Jun 2017

PM hopeful police will put Barclay matter to rest

6:57 pm on 27 June 2017

Prime Minister Bill English says he hopes a fresh police investigation will put the controversy around outgoing Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay to rest, once and for all.

Bill English speaking to media at Parliament on Tuesday 27 June 2017

Photo: RNZ / Chris Bramwell

Police have reopened their investigation into Mr Barclay and whether he secretly recorded staff in his electorate office.

They said it would look back at a range of comments made and information that came to light last week. They have already started speaking to a number of people they believe have relevant information.

The original police investigation last year was launched after an electorate staffer laid a complaint, but it hit a brick wall after Mr Barclay refused to co-operate.

The controversy ended the political career of Mr Barclay, who will no longer be standing for the seat in September's general election.

Mr English said he would co-operate with the investigation and hoped it would put the dispute to rest, once and for all.

"There's been several attempts to resolve this personal dispute and I would hope this does."

He remains under scrutiny for his role in the employment dispute in his former electorate and its messy fallout.

He would not answer a question about whether he knew more know about the situation than when he first gave his police statement.

In Parliament, Labour leader Andrew Little asked Mr English about the recordings.

"Can be straight with me - does he know if any person suggested Todd Barclay destroy the tapes that were the subject of a now reopened police investigation, and if so who was that person?"

Mr English replied he had no ministerial responsibility for that. Mr Little went to ask another questions about the recordings.

"Given the contents of the tapes have now been revealed to concern Todd Barclay and 'sex and drug matters' - does he accept the tapes exist and when was he aware of the contents?"

Mr English replied he had no comment to make, further to what he had already said.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, Mr Little said Mr English should be more forthcoming.

"This is a Prime Minister now and a government that are desperate to duck for cover and try to absolve themselves of responsibility.

"I don't think they can - this has been around for 18 months."

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters accused the Prime Minister of "hiding under a cone of no responsibility" to avoid questions about his involvement.

"Mr English has changed his story so many times he's run out of options", said Mr Peters.

A Parliamentary Service spokesperson said staff had fully co-operated with the earlier investigation, and were intending to "fully co-operate with any further police inquiries".

"Given that police have reopened their investigation, we consider it would be inappropriate for Parliamentary Service to publicly comment further at this point."