A new police investigation into former National MP Todd Barclay has again found insufficient evidence to press charges, in the wake of a Newsroom investigation which led to his departure from Parliament.
Police have defended their handling of the original investigation, arguing “speculation, hearsay and third party information” was not enough to move ahead with a prosecution.
In June, Newsroom revealed Barclay’s clandestine taping of former staffer Glenys Dickson led to a secret payment from former Prime Minister John Key’s leader’s budget.
The investigation also revealed former Prime Minister Bill English knew about the recording and the payment, and that Barclay had told him of the recording and offered to play it to him.
The day after the Newsroom story broke, Barclay announced he would not seek re-election in his Clutha-Southland seat.
Police later announced they were reopening the investigation into Barclay, having originally concluded there was insufficient evidence for a prosecution.
In a written statement released on Monday, NZ Police assistant commissioner of investigations Richard Chambers said there was “no change to the outcome of the original investigation”.
Chambers said police had assessed new information that came into the public domain, spoken to some people who had already been interviewed, and spoke to “new individuals it was thought may have relevant information."
Police had attempted to interview Barclay, but he had again refused to speak with them.
The decision to uphold the original decision came after “a thorough review of all information available to us, including legal advice both internal and from Crown Law, plus consideration of the Solicitor General’s prosecution guidelines”, Chambers said.
Police again did not seek or execute search warrants as they did not believe there was enough evidence to justify doing so.
They also concluded there was nothing to back up suggestions that key witnesses had been coerced in relation to the original investigation.
Pushing back against public criticism of the original investigation, Chambers said police had been cleared by the Independent Police Conduct Authority, which found the investigation had followed proper process.
“While we recognise the strong interest in this matter, the foundation of any decision to seek warrants or to prosecute is always the evidence available to us.
“Speculation, hearsay and third party information does not in itself constitute such evidence.”
Barclay has moved to London since leaving Parliament.