No charges after Todd Barclay re-investigation

The police say they have no new evidence of that justifies re-opening the case against ex-MP Todd Barclay so no charges will be laid.

A number of news reports implied that this decision was because Barclay again refused to talk to the police, but as for anyone else that’s his right and a right that is commonly claimed on legal advice.

It wasn’t the reason for no charges being laid, as with any case police have to find sufficient evidence to justify a prosecution and they say they have not been able to do that. New information given to them and new interviews did not make a viable case.

Stuff:  No charges from Todd Barclay re-investigation – police

Police reopened an investigation into allegations Barclay, the former MP for Clutha-Southland, illegally recorded a staff-member after it emerged in June that former prime minister Bill English had been a key witness in the case.

Police have now closed the case as they have insufficient evidence.

“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, Police has (sic) determined that there is no change to the outcome of the original investigation,” Assistant Commissioner (Investigations) Richard Chambers said.

Police rejected criticisms of the initial investigation and any claim that witnesses had been coerced.

“We are aware that the original investigation has been subject to some criticism,” Chambers said.

“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.”

Neither do concerted attempts to score political hits with no evidence.

Stuff details the whole shemozzle:  How the Todd Barclay story got here

 

The Jian Yang story

I have serious concerns about the the ‘revelations’ about National MP and list candidate Jian Yang published 10 days before election day – advance voting has already begun opened.

Newsroom published this story. They also broke and drove the Todd Barclay story.

The timing is very questionable, especially with the Jian Yang story, as are implications made.

Why now? And why target one immigrant MP?

Attempts by media to influence elections seem to be growing in frequency and intent.

This isn’t isolated – yet another election targeting Brian Bruce documentary which also targeted China, was publicly funded by NZ on Air, was years in the making, and was broadcast just before the election.

Our democracy is at threat from media abusing their power for political purposes.

 

TRP Adviser 11 August 2017

This week we learned many things.


Bill English is donkey deep in the Todd Barclay affair, Labour have their mojo back and it’s all about me me Metiria.

The revelations that Bill English was texting his former electorate secretary hundreds of times in the lead up to her resignation was bad enough. Now we learn that English unlawfully destroyed the incriminating texts, presumably to avoid public opprobrium.

It seems likely that Winston Peters has some or all of the communications and is going to drip feed them over the next few weeks. He’s going to let English squirm and fret. That’s as it should be, because forcing someone to resign against their will is appalling behaviour.

In the legal trade, that’s known as a constructive dismissal. It’s when someone of power and authority makes life so miserable for an employee that they have no reasonable alternative but to resign.

At least that’s what I hope English was up to with his txt torrent. It’d be truly awful if, as some people have suggested, he was a sex pest. No, that simply can’t be true.


The latest polls have Labour riding high. They’re back up to the giddy heights of the mid thirties, a place that was only a few years ago the death knell for former leaders Shearer and Cunliffe.

There’s a sad irony that a mediocre result is a cause for celebration, but kudos to Andrew Little for allowing this to happen. The Jacinda Affect is real. But will it be sustained? And after the Greens implosion, will the coalition numbers still stack up, even with NZ First’s support?


This has been a chastening week for the Greens. The initial response to Metiria Turei’s admission that she was a benefit fraudster was a leap in support. There was clear public sympathy for her claimed circumstances, but as her story unravelled, that faded fast.

It was political madness to alienate middle class support. The Greens don’t exist without the money and votes of the relatively well off. Trying to rebrand the party as mana with muesli was always going to come at a cost.

The maths simply don’t add up. The beneficiaries Metiria was pitching to are notoriously hard to get enrolled, let alone to get to vote. The gain was always going to be minimal and the potential downside catastrophic.

In short, Meteria Turei’s attempt to be down with the kids has cost her and two other MP’s their jobs. Because they will know struggle to get to double figures, she’s also cost 4 or 5 list candidates seats in parliament as well.

And still she won’t apologise. That’s weird, because she’s going to be doing a lot of apologising in private in the coming weeks. Mainly to the wider family of her child, who she has effectively cast as uncaring and distant.

One last question I haven’t heard asked in the media. Was James Shaw aware of the content of her speech? If he did and was supportive of it, he should also go, because the polling is not their only problem. They’ve effectively given Winston Peters the right to demand they be left out of cabinet if Labour form the next Government.

That’s the real damage me me Metiria has done.

Peters blusters through another QT

Winston Peters is determined to keep banging on about Bill English and texts, and the media keeps feeding his bitch, but so far it has been little more than bluster absent anything of substance.

In Question Time today he quoted one of the gazillions of texts English sent every day, but that happens to be one that has already been made public.

Peters has past for for saying, suggesting, insinuating and hinting that he has heaps of damaging communications, the media buy into it, and he doesn’t front up. He seems to expect the media, or Parliament, or the Police to come up with evidence to back his assertions.

So far though this has been a lame attempt at getting back attention sucked away from him by Labour and the Greens.

I’m not sure if he has a cunning plan or he is flailing in hope.

2. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements on the Todd Barclay matter; if so, how does he actually do that?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH (Prime Minister): Yes; because I said them.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why, at yesterday’s Prime Minister’s press conference, did he tell reporters that he “wasn’t aware of the employment settlement” relating to the Todd Barclay matter, when one of his texts says: “settlement was larger than normal because of the privacy breach”?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: That was the text that came out with the police report. That was the discussion that was had with them at the time. There is absolutely nothing new in that. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I will have the supplementary question.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why, at yesterday’s Prime Minister’s press conference, did he tell reporters that he “wasn’t involved and didn’t know about the nature of the employment settlement.”, when his text message states that Glenys Dickson’s settlement was “part paid from prime ministers budget to avoid potential legal action.”—his words?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I stand by what I said at the prime ministerial press conference.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Which of the following statements does he stand by: (a) “I wasn’t involved and didn’t know about the nature of the employment settlement.”, or (b) “The settlement was larger than normal because of the privacy breach”, and “Had to be part paid from prime ministers budget to avoid potential legal action. Everybody unhappy.”? Which one of those two statements does he stand by?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I just remind the Prime Minister that in rising to answer the question, he does not need to make any comments around the leader’s budget. He has no prime ministerial responsibility for that.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With respect, he put it at issue at his Prime Minister’s press conference yesterday, which makes it relevant, and that is why he should be answering the questions, not ducking behind—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat immediately.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Well, I will resume my seat, but you answer that question.

Mr SPEAKER: In the first two—I advise the member that when I ask him to resume his seat, he does so. In the first two questions, he certainly referred to statements made at the press conference. In the third supplementary question, which he has just asked, he did not, and that is why I gave that warning to the Prime Minister.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That will not do. The Prime Minister at his press conference said he—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume seat immediately, and if he carries on behaving like that—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Don’t threaten me.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, I will threaten the member. If he carries on behaving like that, I will be asking him to leave the Chamber. Does the Prime Minister wish to address the question that was asked?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have no ministerial responsibility for that.

Richard Prosser: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Without questioning any of the previous rulings that you have made on this, with reference to Speaker’s ruling 170/2AA—which has not previously been canvassed—by Speaker Carter, it states: “Although considerable weight must be given to Minister’s claim that actions or statements were not made in a ministerial capacity, this can never be definitive. Where I judge a question to reveal a reasonable likelihood of a connection to ministerial responsibility, an informative answer must be given.” I would contend that given that it was the Prime Minister’s office that arranged that additional payment, I would say that there probably is a reasonable likelihood of a connection to the ministerial responsibility that is there for you to judge.

Mr SPEAKER: I thank the member for his scholarly study of Speakers’ Rulings. Can I refer the member to Speaker’s ruling 173/1: “The Prime Minister is not responsible for funding provided through Parliamentary Service to the party.”

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can the Prime Minister tell us why he deleted hundreds of his text messages relating to the Barclay matter, according to the media, yet insisted upon Judith Collins producing her telephone records when she was a contestant against him for the job of leader of the National Party?

Mr SPEAKER: The right honourable Prime Minister, in so far as there is prime ministerial responsibility.

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have no idea what the member is referring to.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Of the times he has been down to the Clutha-Southland electorate since he retired as its MP, how often were those trips primarily to meet with Glenys Dickson?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have no ministerial responsibility for that, that is for sure.

 

English’s credibility damaged by Barclay

It was fairly obvious Bill English’s credibility, and National Party credibility, will have taken a hit over the now long drawn out Todd Barclay issue.

This has been confirmed by a Newshub poll:  Bill English’s credibility hit by Todd Barclay saga

The latest Newshub-Reid Research poll shows Prime Minister Bill English’s credibility has taken a hit over the Todd Barclay scandal.

By party:

The Newshub-Reid Research poll was conducted July 20-28. One-thousand people were surveyed – 750 by telephone and 250 by internet panel. It has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.

This isn’t surprising. I think English handled it poorly – but he was put under extreme pressure by a sustained avalanche of media coverage. It was a big learning experience for him after managing to stay out of the spotlight for years apart from when presenting the annual budgets.

A more important question though is how much this has damaged his and National’s credibility. Do people trust him less than any other politician?

I could answer yes to ‘have I lost some trust in English’, but would how much would that influence my vote this election? That’s a much more complex question that a vague poll cannot address. Neither can I at this stage, there’s going to be many things to consider before I vote.

I could also say that I have lost trust over the media handling of the the Barclay saga.

Media obsession with Barclay continues

Todd Barclay was a minor National back bencher and is not standing in this year’s election. But the disproportionate media obsession with him looks set to continue.

Stuff yesterday:  National MP Todd Barclay will return to Parliament on Tuesday – Bill English

Disgraced Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay is returning to Parliament after a three-week hiatus.

Prime Minister Bill English confirmed on Monday that Barclay is on his way to Wellington and was expected back in Parliament on Tuesday.

Barclay resurfaced for the first time last Tuesday when he posted on his Facebook page that he was still working on constituent issues, along with a photo of him holding what appeared to be a child’s letter of support.

Up until last week, Barclay had barely been seen since his resignation on June 21, apart from a sighting at Queenstown’s Pig and Whistle earlier in the month.

Questions have been raised about what Barclay has been doing in his electorate while he continues to sit on a $170,000 parliamentary salary until the election in September.

This morning:

The side show looks set to continue.

Clifton: post-mortem on the Barclay fiasco

A “post-mortem on Todd Barclay fiasco” (and the McCarten fiasco) has just popped up on Noted after being in the Listener a couple of weeks ago, with any interesting analysis of the complexities that most of the media failed to address.

On Barclay:

Given his youth, affluence, career and party affiliation, Barclay was always going to struggle to get the benefit of the doubt in any political stoush. But the more that emerges about this affair, the more simplistic the popular media take on it seems;: that it’s all about Barclay abusing local staff and members. To refine something this column said last week, Barclay was probably more sinned against than sinning.

After months of intense local parsing of gossip, factoid and eyewitness account, National Party members voted by a considerable margin to reselect Barclay as their candidate. Either they didn’t believe the half of what his detractors said or they reckoned it didn’t matter. Maybe, too, they made judgments about people’s motives. When a new MP moves in, the old guard in an electorate can suffer an attack of that age-old complaint called relevance-deprivation syndrome.

The kernel of the complaints was that Barclay lived it up a little too much, threw his weight around and paid more attention to townie business than rural folk. One could fairly ask, what twentysomething living in Queenstown wouldn’t party, and if not, what the heck was wrong with them? Tourism and property development are the district’s rocket fuel, so the local MP is obliged to prioritise them. And as MP, he’s the electorate boss. Staff have to do things his way, even if they reckon he’s wrong. These, at least, were the conclusions of the majority of Nats who reselected him.

That should have been an end to it. His foes relitigated their dissatisfaction with a slew of formal complaints to the party board, but these were rejected after an investigation led by lawyer and former Cabinet minister Kate Wilkinson.

How would anyone, let alone a novice MP, feel if they believed people who were supposed to support them – including some who were being paid to do so – were accusing them of criminality and licentiousness?

Let’s hastily say that trying to catch one’s accusers out with illicit bugging would not be a correct or proportionate response. But it’s now clear that, to whatever extent bullying took place, it went both ways.

Despite those rumours having swirled for a couple of years, Barclay has never been investigated for anything other than the taping allegation, so this tattling has to be seen as spite. If anyone genuinely thought the MP was involved in such illegality, the correct thing to do would have been to tell the police. Whether or not Barclay sought to psych out his foes by bugging or a bluff of bugging, it’s now pretty clear some of them had first sought to psych him out by slanderous rumour-mongering. They might count themselves lucky that defamation is a civil rather than criminal matter, or police might be investigating them as well.

There was obviously a comprehensive campaign run against Barclay over several days using an obliging Newsroom (who as far as I have seen may scant attempt to balance their coverage with any investigating of the other side of the story).

On Bill English:

English’s peculiar hedging over aspects of Barclay’s electorate’s protracted squabbles have now damaged his reputation as a rock-solid leader. His seemingly needless hemming and hawing may be down to his uneasy conscience at the knowledge that he could have done more to stop the young MP’s plight becoming unsalvageable.

A further fact that Barclay’s foes must confront is the amount of political firepower arrayed in his defence, particularly within the National caucus. That support appears to remain solid, despite – and possibly because of – the suggestion that not all MPs are happy with English’s handling of matters. Ambitious, experienced MPs with big careers ahead of them have openly supported Barclay throughout his tribulations.

That’s not to say that ministers including Jonathan Coleman, Maggie Barry and Judith Collins and rising stars like Chris Bishop and Todd Muller have not told Barclay he’s been a blithering idiot. But they wouldn’t have telegraphed their support – several attending the selection meeting to back him – if they believed he’d been the primary menace in this mess. Nor would they risk their reputations if they thought he was a useless MP or a liability.

In any caucus, loyalty comes second to self-preservation. Few MPs in big trouble get that level of overt endorsement from colleagues. National’s Aaron Gilmore and Richard Worth didn’t get a sniff of it on their way out the door. Collins herself, when she was in shtook last election, would have welcomed a fraction of the ballast Barclay has had. English can’t be in any doubt that many of his MPs now feel he let Barclay down rather more badly than Barclay let down the party.

A further key difference – indeed, a Key difference – is that the MP-overboard outcome has not made the Prime Minister look strong. When John Key disciplined or dispatched errant MPs, he always emerged looking like someone who would not stand for any nonsense. English, by contrast, made himself look part of the problem rather than the guy who put a stop to it.

It was a big reality check for English, showing that he can’t just stroll through the campaign to the election. He has ground to make up after this slow motion slip up.

In conclusion:

For the Government, the Barclay fiasco is also proving damaging, but more in the way of storing up internal trouble for later. It may make voters re-examine their assumptions about English’s steadiness at the helm, but it’s unlikely to be a game-changer. The major damage is the doubt and resentment he’s seeded within the caucus and party. When one day National’s polling falters, he’ll pay for the Barclay affair.

How this pans out will probably be largely determined by the election result. If National hang on to power English should be safe for a while at least. But if they lose the political knives are likely to be aiming at English’s back fairly quickly.

IPCA clear Police on Barclay investigation

At least one complaint was made to the Independent Police Complaints Authority about the police investigation into Todd Barclay in Clutha-Southland. The IPCA has cleared the police.

RNZ: IPCA won’t pursue Barclay investigation complaint

The police watchdog has decided not to pursue a complaint about the handling of last year’s investigation into embattled Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay.

No charges were laid after several months of inquiries into a recording Mr Barclay was alleged to have made of a staffer in the Gore electorate office.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) received a complaint in June, but said it was satisfied there was no misconduct or neglect by police investigating the case.

It has notified the complainant and the Police Commissioner, and has closed its file.

At the time Mr Barclay declined to co-operate with the police investigation, and it has since been reopened.

The investigation was reopened after Barclay and Bill English made public statements about what happened.

Some people will never have been happy with an outcome like this. Winston Peters has already had a grizzle about it.

Stuff: IPCA clear police of any wrong doing in the handling of the Todd Barclay secret recording investigation

“In my view, the police haven’t satisfactorily answered why they didn’t pursue the case. They had complaints of a recording, they had a complainant and to the best of my knowledge we have not been told who they talked to or didn’t talk to,” Peters said.

“But to say they’re satisfied there was no misconduct is an extraordinary statement to make.”

It’s not extraordinary if they investigated thoroughly and that was the conclusion they came to.

Strange things happening in Clutha-Southland

There are calls for MP Todd Barclay to show up in his Clutha-Southland electorate and to front up in Parliament. Fair call, he is being paid to be an MP so he should do the job of an MP.

But as he keeps avoiding public contact investigations reveal some strange things going on in his electorate.

Stuff:  What’s behind the strange goings on in Southland?

Shooting the messenger has become a means to an end in itself – when trust in the media is at an all-time low, anything goes.

And anything goes is certainly how you would describe the extraordinary goings on in Southland this week after a local reporter, Rachael Kelly, tried to find out what local MP Todd Barclay had been up to since disappearing from public life last month.

Kelly and a local cameraman have been accused of intimidating and threatening behaviour, even of being physically aggressive.

And the allegations were made at the highest levels, from the Prime Minister’s office and Parliamentary Service.

Problem is, it’s not true.  A video shows what actually happened.

Kelly, accompanied by a cameraman, knocked on a door to Barclay’s Gore electorate office where a receptionist came to speak to them. Kelly is well known to the staff at the Gore office – Gore is her beat.

The pair were on the trail of a story that matters in their local community.

Kelly and her cameraman were in Barclay’s office barely more than a minute. After being told Barclay was not at work, and checking he hadn’t been there that week, the reporter said thank you and she and the cameraman left.

Watch it for yourself, at the top of this story, if you like.

Yet in conversations with South Island editor-in-chief, Joanna Norris, it was alleged Kelly and her cameraman “barged” into Barclay’s office and harassed and intimidated staff – even pursuing them to the back of the office, leaving the staff feeling threatened and under seige.

There was also a complaint about a [different] journalist shouting and abusing Barclay’s PR person over the phone.

Apparently he has one, even though it’s highly unusual for a backbencher to have their own media minder.

The allegations were made in two phone conversations between Norris and a senior member of the PM’s staff, as well as phone conversations with the head of Parliamentary Service, David Stevenson.

Stevenson also dropped the bombshell that police were now involved.

Both acknowledged after seeing the video it was not as they thought. They also defended their intervention as being out of concern for the welfare of staff, who have had to front for Barclay in his absence. But if it had not been for Stuff’s ability to produce video evidence, the allegations would probably have stuck.

It’s an increasingly common way for politicians to deflect questions. Attacking the behaviour and credibility of the journalist and their media organisation never fails to find a sympathetic ear, but especially so now.

Winston Peters has attacked the media/messenger for a long time. Donald Trump has raised the art to new heights in the US. It is an abuse of democratic power.

It’s not within the power of the prime minister or anyone else to force Barclay out of Parliament.

But it is within the prime minister’s power to compel Barclay to show up for work.

There is clearly no appetite in National, however, for Barclay to show his face in Wellington again.

National would rather avoid the media circus, even if that means dealing with the low level irritation of questions from journalists about his excuse for not being there.

This makes National look very dodgy.

RNZ:  Call for Barclay to return to Parliament

Mr Barclay has not been seen in Parliament and has scrapped public appearances since he announced last month that he will stand down at the election after one term as MP for Clutha Southland.

Mr Barclay – the deputy chair of the Education and Science and Primary Production select committees – has not returned RNZ’s calls or messages this week.

There are four sitting weeks before the House rises for the election, and Mr Barclay is still collecting his $165,000 a year MPs salary.

National Party senior whip Jami-Lee Ross, who visited Mr Barclay this week, said no decision has been made yet about whether he’ll return.

That shouldn’t be the decision.

the decision should be whether Barclay does his full job as an MP that he is being paid to do, or he should resign.

“Todd Barclay has said he is keen to be the MP for Clutha-Southland until the election and he’s doing that work.

“Any leave requirements he’ll be discussing with me as the party whip between now and the next sitting week of Parliament.”

If this drags on through the election campaign and nibbles away at National’s credibility they have themselves to blame for allowing this mess to continue into election year, and for dealing with it so poorly when it became a public issue.

Barclay absent on full pay

Stuff tries to keep the Barclay story going:  He’s making $3000 a week but no-one knows if Todd Barclay will ever return to Parliament

It remains unclear whether embattled Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay will return to Parliament before retiring at the election in September.

Barclay has been absent from the House and select committees since he announced he would stand down in June over further revelations about his alleged illegal taping of a staff-member.

Parliament is currently in recess but will sit for a further four weeks prior to the election. Barclay is the deputy chair of both the Education and Science and Primary Production select committees.

Senior whip Jami-Lee Ross and Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie are travelling to Queenstown on Tuesday to meet with Barclay.

Ross said he would likely be talking to Barclay about whether he was coming back to Parliament or not.

“I don’t know if he’s made a decision yet. I’m sure that will come up in the conversation – we’ll discuss if and when he does come back to Parliament.”

 

The young MP, who usually has a busy schedule, hasn’t been spotted at a single public event – even when other National MPs have visited the electorate.

It is understood he was even absent from a National Party fundraiser in Queenstown on Friday, which deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett attended.

Barclay was active on Twitter up until June 19.

Since then, nothing.

Not many jobs allow you to keep getting paid while not working. In this case Barclay is very generously paid.

At least he doesn’t seem to be clocking up travel expenses.

This doesn’t look good, he should either be working as an MP or he should resign.

But comparatively, how bad is this?

How much value do taxpayers get out of back bench Government MPs? Especially list MPs?

How much value do we get out of opposition MPs?

John Key and David Cunliffe resigned as soon as they could while avoiding triggering a by-election. They aren’t being paid, but they have left their electorates unrepresented.

How many MPs are spending a lot if not most of their time campaigning? Working for their re-election and not working for the country?

Winston Peters spends a lot of time and money on a leader’s salary campaigning all over the country.

The Green co-leaders and most if not all Green MPs went to Nelson on Sunday to launch their election campaign. Perhaps they all paid for their own travel (presumably not by bicycle) and accommodation.

Andrew Little and Jacinda Ardern have been campaigning for months. Who is paying for that?

Who paid for Matt McCarten’s salary while he set up a ‘non-partisan’ campaign using foreign students? And the other Labour staffers’ salaries? Has Stuff investigated that yet?

Barclay’s situation seems farcical, but his skiving off on full salary is not a lot more wasteful than a lot of Parliamentary expenses.