Prime Minister Bill English has confirmed Todd Barclay offered to play him the recordings he had made of a staff member - but still says he “simply doesn’t know” whether they actually existed.
English has also sought to downplay new revelations about whether the National Party’s board did enough to address complaints about Barclay, saying they were dealt with as part of his reselection process.
Barclay resigned this week after a Newsroom investigation revealed text messages from English confirming Barclay had told him about recording his former electoral agent Glenys Dickson.
English has repeatedly suggested the existence of recordings had not been proved, telling TV3’s The Nation on Saturday: “The fact of a recording has never actually been established.”
However, as reported by Newsroom earlier this week, Dickson’s police statement said English had told her Barclay had offered to play him the recording.
“Bill apparently told Todd that he didn’t want to listen to this rubbish.”
'I haven't denied anything'
Speaking to media after National’s annual conference, English confirmed Barclay had offered to play him the recording of Dickson, but denied that was inconsistent with his statements about whether the recording existed.
“I haven’t denied anything - I’ve just said that what I was told, I then passed [the information] to the police which they asked me about, and there was then an investigation, at the conclusion of which no charges were laid…
“I’m not the determiner of what events happened or whether they were an offence or not - that’s the job the police have already done.”
English said it was up to police to decide what to do, and they had opted against laying charges.
“I’m not going to second-guess a 10-month investigation...if you’re concerned about the nature of the investigation, then that’s a matter for the police or the Independent Police Conduct Authority.”
He said he did not take up Barclay’s offer to listen to the recording as he “didn’t think it was appropriate” to intervene in an employment dispute.
“This was some time after I left the electorate...I had no official role in that dispute, I just knew there was one and there was a process for resolving it and I think we all know that in the context of employment disputes of police investigations, you don't want to make them worse with loose comments or whatever that could make it harder to resolve.”
English: Barclay should cooperate
English said he would cooperate with police if they reopened the investigation, and believed Barclay should do the same, as he had told him during initial police enquiries.
Asked about whether National’s board had failed to address concerns raised about Barclay before he was reselected, as revealed on Sunday by Newsroom, English said they had been “fully discussed in the context of the selection”.
He had not spoken to Glenda Hughes about allegations she encouraged Dickson to withdraw her police complaint, and said it would be up to police or the National Party to investigate.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if in a national organisation when there was this employment dispute going on with of course the local party involved in it, that the National board took an interest in it - it would be irresponsible for them not to do that.
“There may be different interpretations of what that amounted to, and if there’s serious allegations, well, they should be dealt with by the appropriate authority.”
He did not know what actions National officials had taken about Barclay, but said he would expect that they followed the party’s own rules.
English confirmed he had not told Barclay to “wipe” the recordings, but did not want to talk in detail about further issues due to the possibility of a new police investigation.