Police investigating National Party board member

The Todd Barclay plot has just got thicker. National Party board member Glenda Hughes was already linked to the saga in the Clutha-Southland electorate, but she has now been included in the police investigation.

Newshub:  Police to investigate board member over Todd Barclay saga

Police are now investigating National Party board member Glenda Hughes over her role in the Todd Barclay saga, Newshub has learned.

It was widely reported at the time that Ms Dickson claimed to have been contacted by Ms Hughes, who allegedly told her that a police complaint would only cause problems for the National Government.

Ms Hughes also allegedly said if Ms Dickson withdrew the complaint, police would not have a case.

The latest information emerged in an Official Information Act (OIA) request from the Green Party to police.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei, who received the OIA request, calls it a significant development.

Yes, it is a significant revelation (it sounds like it was already a development).

No wonder Bill English tried to appear to remain as distant as possible.

PM leader’s fund paid Barclay legal bill

As well as being used to top up the employment dispute settlement between Parliamentary Services and Clutha-Southland Gore office employee Glenys Dickson, it was also used to pay for legal advice for Todd Barclay.

1 News:  Todd Barclay case lawyers paid taxpayer cash

Taxpayer money from the former prime minister’s leader’s fund was used to pay for legal advice as well as top up the settlement in the Todd Barclay case, it’s been revealed.

The settlement was paid to former electorate office staffer Glenys Dickson to settle an employment dispute with Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay.

Most of it was paid by her employer, the Parliamentary Service, but had to be topped up from former prime minister John Key’s leader’s fund.

The amount isn’t known but New Zealand First managed to find out, through the Official Information Act, that $2609 was used to pay lawyers.

The taxpayers (us) have not forked out anything extra. The Prime Minister is given a certain amount for the fund and use it as allowed and decided, so if the money wasn’t used for Barclay’s legal bill it would have been used for something else by the PM’s office.

I presume this use of the fund was allowed by the rules, otherwise I’d expect that NZ First would be making a lot more noise about it.

Regardless, for the few that are likely to hear about this it doesn’t look that flash for National.

IPCA complaint laid over Barclay investigation

Someone has laid a complaint with the Independent Police Conduct Authority over the handling of the inquiry into Todd Barclay last year.

The Police had reopened their inquiry last week.

Stuff:  Complaint over police handling of Todd Barclay case received by Independent Police Conduct Authority

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has received a complaint about police handling of the original investigation into the allegations of embattled National MP Todd Barclay’s involvement in a secret taping scandal.

Last week police re-opened the case and authority case resolution manager Sarah Goodall said the complaint about the original investigation was received on June 21, sparked by renewed media interest in the case.

It came from someone not personally involved in the case and was thus classified as a “principled complaint,” Goodall said.

“We are currently assessing information in accordance with our normal processes and determining what, if any, action to take,” Goodall said.

I really don’t know what the point of this complaint is. Trying to make a point or pressure the Police into doing more when inquiring into matters involving politicians?

This complaint shouldn’t affect the current inquiry, unless the aim is to apply more pressure on the Police.

Barclay has already lost his political career.  There has already been a confidential employment settlement that seems to have involved a substantial sum of money.

The recording allegation hardly seems to be a major crime – many didn’t realise it was a crime. Video recordings are legal, audio are illegal in some circumstances.

Balance in the Newsroom?

Newsroom have been praised for their investigative journalism after a series of revelations and articles on the Todd Barclay issue.

Questions have also been raised over their possible collusion with a dirty politics campaign, seemingly not just designed on damaging Todd Barclay.

After he has lost his political career over it the attention turned to Bill English, who was placed a very difficult position by drip fed Newsroom revelations. English was strongly criticised for not being open about things, but there was a confidential employment agreement involved, and also a secret recording that it would have been illegal to reveal existed let alone the contents.

There was the potential to bring down English, bring down the Government, and swing the election (that could still be a consequence).

It is very important that media holds power to account, and holds elected people and Governments to account. But media have power of their own, and that also needs to be held to account.

Newsroom are an Auckland based media organisation. They must have put considerable resources into a story about as far from Auckland as you can get, in Clutha-Southland.

There is a big contrast between their handling of the southern story and the other big political story of the past couple of weeks where it was important to hold another bunch of politicians to account – the Labour Party Fellowship/intern story. This is very much an Auckland story.

Newsroom is new and relatively small, so can’t be expected to cover every story in depth, but some balance should be expected.

Integrity and truthfulness of leading politicians were involved in both the Barclay and intern stories.

How did their coverage of the two stories compare?

On the National/Barclay Story:

  • Politicians, police, and the payout
  • Todd Barclay’s file of denial 19 June
  • Barclay payout raises questions over leader’s fund 19 June
  • Setbacks derail National’s election plan 23 June
  • Todd Barclay responds: ‘I did nothing wrong’
  • Barclay sorry for ‘misleading’ comments
  • Police to review Todd Barclay case
  • Privacy Commissioner may probe Barclay claims
  • Allegations Barclay invented complaints
  • Fall from grace for Baby of the House
  • How Barclay’s career went up in smoke
  • PM accused of cover-up
  • Hughes stonewalls Dickson questions
  • Barclay affair: What the board knew
  • English: Barclay offered to play rec
  • Officials knew details of Barclay tapes

On the Labour/intern story

  • Labour under fire over volunteer ‘hypocrisy’

No investigations on their own turf, no investigation about funding of the scheme, no questions about Andrew Little’s  integrity and truthfulness. Little slammed English’s morals while claiming the high ground over the interns, but media has barely touched on his lack of openness and on his varying and vague explanations.

Perhaps Newsroom are doing an in depth investigation and will publish soon.

Perhaps the Auckland Labour Party and the New Zealand Labour Party will still be held to account.

Bills relying on Barclay’s vote

By not standing down until the election Todd Barclay’s vote is still available in Parliament so the Government can pass legislation. The Labour Party has pointed out their are three bills that are relying on that vote if they are to be passed before the election recess.

Bill English has said that it is Barclay’s decision as to whether he remains in Parliament until the election. A party leader is not able to force an MP to resign, for good reason.

NZ Herald: Three law changes hinge on National MP Todd Barclay’s vote, Labour Party says

The National-led Government would be unable to pass three pieces of legislation including major child, youth and family reforms if MP Todd Barclay had been sacked immediately, the Labour Party says.

Without his vote, the National Party would need support from two out of three of its coalition partners to pass legislation.

Labour said there were three bills before Parliament which were either opposed by the Maori Party or by both Act and United Future, meaning they would not progress without Barclay’s vote.

Government Bills which are remaining to be passed this term which will depend on Barclay’s vote (based on known party position)

  • Children, Young Persons, and Their Families (Oranga Tamariki) Legislation Bill
  • Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2)
  • Employment Relations (Allowing Higher Earners to Contract Out of Personal Grievance Provisions) Amendment Bill

Bills which passed by one vote since the end of February 2016 when the Barclay incident happened

  • Housing Legislation Amendment Bill
  • Social Security (Extension of Young Persons Services and Remedial Matters) Amendment Bill
  • Trade (Anti-dumping and Countervailing Duties) Amendment Bill
  • Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Amendment Bill
  • Employment Relations (Allowing Higher Earners to Contract Out of Personal Grievance Provisions) Amendment Bill (National Party members bill – still before the House)
  • Social Security (Stopping Benefit Payments for Offenders who Repeatedly Fail to Comply with Community Sentences) Amendment Bill (National Party members bill – still before the House)

(Source: Parliamentary Library/Labour Party)

Is what Barclay has done (not being truthful) and is alleged to have done bad enough to justify stopping the elected Government from continuing with it’s legislative programme?

Should he have resigned in February last year? This would have effectively hung the Parliament in the middle of the term.

Threats of private prosecution

Politicians and journalists are demanding the police prosecute Todd Barclay, but if that doesn’t happen Graham McCready is threatening to get involved – and he says he could  include Bill English in a prosecution.

Stuff:  Private prosecution of Todd Barclay and Bill English suggested

Serial litigant Graham McCready says he will take Todd Barclay and Bill English to court over the taping scandal if the police don’t.

The prosecution would focus on Barclay’s accused illegal reporting and English as an “accessory after the fact”.

McCready’s New Zealand Private Prosecution Service wrote to Invercargill Police on Monday morning advising them that if they didn’t prosecute Barclay and English they would seek to – providing that the complainant Glenys Dickson and other witnesses wished to.

That is almost a threat to the police, and is at least trying to pressure them into taking a particular action.

Will Glenys Dickson and other witnesses (are there any witnesses at all to a recording?) be willing to get dragged in by McCready?

McCready said he would prefer the police led the prosecution, but doubted they would.

“It’s the same all the other high profile cases – painter-gate, ponytail-gate, the punch-up in Parliament. The police just run away,” he said.

Maybe the Police have different considerations, priorities and motives to litigant grand standers.

But some people and the media seem intent on driving this as much as they can.

English keeps feeding media on Barclay

The media are still full on holding Bill English to account over the Todd Barclay recordings. He managed to deliver headlines on both Saturday and Sunday, and he has kept things going this morning.

RNZ: VIDEO: PM ‘gave no advice’ on Barclay recordings

Prime Minister Bill English does not know whether the recording at the centre of the Todd Barclay controversy still exists, he tells Morning Report’s Susie Ferguson.

More from English on Barclay recordings

Yesterday on The Nation (possibly recorded earlier) Bill English said he wasn’t sure if a recording existed in the Todd Barclay electorate office dispute. Unless he has seen or heard a recording this may be technically correct.

Newshub has more today:  Bill English admits Todd Barclay offered to play secret recordings

Bill English has admitted soon-to-be-former MP Todd Barclay offered to play him the secretly recorded tape of his staff members.

At the National Party’s annual conference today, when asked if Mr Barclay offered to play him the recording, Mr English admitted that he did.

“Did he offer to play me the recording? Yes he did,” Mr English confirmed.

Why was English asked about this? It looks like information could be being being fed to the media.

“I haven’t denied anything; I’ve just said that what I was told I passed to the police. There was then an investigation at the conclusion, of which no charges were made”.

He continued he didn’t think it “was appropriate” for him to accept the offer to listen.

“It was an employment dispute… in the context you don’t want to make them worse with loose comments or whatever that could make them harder to resolve”.

This is tricky territory for English.

The media are obviously pushing for a complete revealing of every detail, and someone seems to be helping them.

Dirty politics?

However English has been caught in the middle of a difficult situation. If a fellow MP talked to him in confidence (as another MP as he was at the time) then I can understand a reluctance to reveal things.

It is also possible that what English knows could be incriminating and affect Police decisions on whether to prosecute or not.

I really don’t know what the proper thing to do is in this situation.

The media don’t care, all they want is another story.

One could wonder whether English is being deliberately targeted here by others with National Party interests, and perhaps want English out and don’t care about an election loss this year.

As Cameron Slater has hinted that more may be known…

Bill English knows a whole lot more than he is letting on, and so does his Chief of Staff. The media know this, the opposition knows this. It is only a matter of time now, and at the moment Bill is running around trying to stop the Privileges Committee complaint.

…and it may be drip fed to media to keep embarrassing English.

Todd Barclay may have just been collateral damage in the real war.

Q+A – Bill English

Bill English on Q+A this morning:

Prime Minister Bill English fronts up to an interview with Political editor Corin Dann after a difficult week for National. Will the Todd Barclay scandal impact his leadership too?

Andrew Little is also being interviewed so their performances will be able to be compared.

English was steady and steadfast, similar to yesterday on The Nation.

The interview was recorded on Friday night so no wonder it was similar. Q+A moans about him not doing it live but Michelle Boag says that English is putting a priority on National’s conference this weekend.

I don’t think much was gained again from pushing him on the Barclay saga.

John Tamihere says that he has not come out of it squeaky clean but he’s basically an honest politician with honest intent who got caught out being “frugal with the truth”.

I’ll post video when it becomes available.

The Nation interview with Bill English

Patrick Gower interviewed Bill English on The Nation this morning. He spent the whole time questioning English about the Todd Barclay saga, what he knew, when he knew it and why he didn’t do more about it sooner.

Generally English handled it fairly well, and despite The Nation’s excitement when they thought they had scored a headline there wasn’t anything new revealed. That was pointed out to them on Twitter and that line seems to have been dropped.

This was their eventual story:

It ended up being a bit of a wasted interview.

Video: Interview: Bill English

Full interview transcript:


The Nation: Patrick Gower interviews Bill English

Headlines:

Prime Minister Bill English now says there’s no evidence that his MP Todd Barclay actually did make recordings of his colleague, Glenys Dickson.

English says he’s satisfied that the issue has been handled as well as it could. He says no one comes out of it looking good, but he hasn’t let voters down.

Patrick Gower: Prime Minister, thank you for joining us. Now, this interview is all about trust – whether you can be trusted. It’s about your integrity and your standards. I want to start by asking you to be clear. When did Todd Barclay tell you that he made these recordings? When exactly did he tell you?

Bill English: In a conversation which was related to the police when I was asked about it.

Do you remember when it was? Like how long ago?

It was after the events that occurred, I think, in early 2016. The police inquiry began in March or April I think.

Yeah, but we know from that that you called Glenys Dickson on 6th of February, on Waitangi Day, in 2016 and told her Todd Barclay had a recording of her. That’s correct, isn’t it?

I can’t comment on that in detail.

Sure. But we do know that you did send that text to Stuart Davie on February the 21st where you said in it, you knew there’d been a recording and that you knew there’d been a privacy breach and a pay up. That was on February the 21st 2016. That’s correct, isn’t it?

I told him what had been told to me, letting the electorate chairman, who’s in charge of the local National Party, know what I knew.

So at that point, which is 16 months ago, you knew what had gone on. There’d been a recording, a privacy breach, you’d spoken directly to both sides. Let’s look at some of your public statements that you made after that, because less than a month later, on the 1st of March, asked by media if you’d talked to any of the parties involved, and I’m going to quote you here, you said, ‘No. Not directly.’ Was that a lie? Because you’d spoken directly to both sides.

Look, no. In the first place—

Was it a lie or not?

In the first place, the fact of a recording has never actually been established. The police investigated, came to no conclusion, no court decision.

This is about your question where you’re asked, ‘Had you talked to any of the parties involved?’ And you said, ‘No. Not directly.’ But we know from your own statement that you’d spoken to both parties directly. Did you lie?

At the time there was a confidentiality agreement around the settlement of an employment dispute and a police investigation. I didn’t know what I could and couldn’t say. I did not want to compromise either of those pretty serious processes.

But you could have said that instead of saying what you said, which was potentially a lie, wasn’t it?

I could have explained it better, but that’s 20/20 hindsight. At the time, information that I had I’d passed to the electorate chair and subsequently to the police when they were asking questions.

Okay. So from that day that you knew about the recordings until this week, which is actually 16 months or more—

Well, again, the fact of the recordings has never actually been established. The police investigated it over 10-12 months.

So from the time that you told of the recordings by Todd Barclay and by the person who believed she was being recorded, 16 months or more have gone by. Now, this week, you said that that behaviour was unacceptable. Do you remember saying that? That that behaviour was unacceptable?

Well, it’s referring to what was a whole lot of behaviour going back to early 2015, so over a couple of years.

Yeah, but you said that the recording was unacceptable this way.

The fact of the recording has never been established. But the behaviour I was referring to was over a whole period of time. This is a sad situation — the breakdown of the relationship—

You said the behaviour was unacceptable in reference to the recording.

I said it was unacceptable. The behaviour—

The question here is anyway, there’s unacceptable behaviour and for 16 months you sit by and do nothing. Was that the right and honourable thing to do, Prime Minister?

I think you need to understand here that we had two people that I both knew. Good people who fell out very badly. A difficult employment dispute grows out of that. I was not a part of that dispute at all. That had to be resolved between the employer and employee who both had obligations. Then there was a police investigation. So the matters involved in this would be dealt with appropriately by the people who needed to — the employers. And when the police complaint was made, the police were dealing with it.

But when it happened and you found out about it, you obviously knew then – you surely knew then — that Todd Barclay had potentially done something illegal when he told you about that recording that he’d done.

I wasn’t aware that the activity, whether it was legal or not. I’m not a lawyer. I was concerned about the broader picture of an employment relationship that had gone in a bad way.

Yeah. But when he said, ‘I’ve recorded her,’ you must have known that was potentially illegal. Everybody in New Zealand politics remembers the Teapot Tapes and what happened there. Everyone knows the ramifications of secret recording. And, in fact, you yourself have been recorded secretly before in a National Party conference. You must have known when he said to you, that he’d potentially done something illegal there. You must have known.

When I was recorded there was no legal or criminal action arose.

When the Teapot Tapes happened, Police raided media, you know that. So you must have known there were some potential ramifications.

I’m not a lawyer, and when the matter did arise, it was fairly quickly in the hands of the police. In New Zealand, the way our system works, the police investigate, they then lay charges, then it’s up to a court to actually decide whether the act was actually criminal. That process has not occurred. In New Zealand people are presumed to be innocent till proven guilty. I’m not a lawyer. All that process, the opportunity for that did unfold. It didn’t come to a conclusion.

Sure. So let’s look at the police investigation part of this. On the 27th of April 2016, that was when you gave your police statement, wasn’t it? So, if we look at your public statements about that, on the 21st of March this year, you were asked to clarify your involvement in the police investigation. You replied that you knew the people and did not want to comment further. ‘All I know is that the matter has been resolved.’ Why didn’t you say then that you’d been interviewed by police? Were you trying to hide something? Were you effectively there lying by omission?

This was a police investigation that had gone on for many months through 2016. It came to a conclusion that they weren’t going to lay charges, and in that sense, the issues had been resolved.

Yeah, but you were asked to clarify your involvement. You had been spoken to and interviewed, and you chose not to say that? Were you trying to hide it?

No, I wasn’t trying to hide anything. I was trying to ensure that the processes that all these events had been through, a significant employment dispute, then a eight or nine-month police investigation were respected. Because until these people have charges laid against them and it’s a public matter, or a court decides it’s a criminal matter, they’re innocent of the allegations.

Sure. Let’s look at another statement that you’ve made as well. Because when you were asked, in March again, if Barclay had acted inappropriately you said, ‘All I know is the police investigation is come to an end, so the matter is closed.’ But you knew that he’d told that he’d made the secret recordings, so you much more than the fact that the investigation had been closed.

What I knew is that I had, in response to questions from the police, given them that information. This idea that somehow giving information to the police is a cover-up is ridiculous. The police investigated the whole matter. I don’t know what actions they took. I don’t know what evidence they saw. I don’t know who they spoke to. What I do know is there is no more thorough way for the allegations to be investigated than—

Than with the New Zealand police.

…than to have the New Zealand police.

But what we’re looking at here are your public statements when you’re asked about your involvement, and here’s another from this week. You said you couldn’t remember who told you about the taping when it was later revealed, as you know, that your police statement clearly said it was Todd Barclay. Is that really credible to say that you forgot who told you? Can you understand how people just don’t believe you?

Well, I said what I thought. I went and checked the police statement.

No, but you forgot. Do you think people believe that you forgot?

Paddy, did you want to hear what I had to say? I said what I thought. I went and looked at the police statement, and I clarified the matter as soon as I could.

Here’s another one, then. On your way to Parliament this week in the press conference, you said that you reported this to police. You didn’t. They came to you. Why did you say that?

Well, that was a generalised use of the word, but, again, I’m quite happy with the view. I answered questions from the police and in the course of that I confirm—

But you didn’t report it to police. They came to you.

And I didn’t mean to give the impression that I had initiated it, but the police did already have the texts that I sent, quite appropriately, to the election chairman, letting him know what I knew. Then the police came and asked me, and, really, the interview simply confirmed the content of the texts.

The point that I’m getting at here is these all these public statements that kind of don’t match up. It’s like you’re dodging things. It’s like you’re being shifty, Prime Minister. Were you being shifty all this time?

No, I wasn’t. As someone who wasn’t party to this dispute right from the start, but you all knew the people involved, trying to ensure that the confidentiality of the agreement was respected and that the police investigation was accepted and the result of that was accepted as a thorough investigation of the circumstances, after which no charges were laid. And that sense, there wasn’t an issue. If the police investigate it and no charges are laid, then the assertion that criminal activity occurred appears to be wrong, because there was no criminal process that came to any conclusion.

But with all due respect to all of that, and, actually, I agree to some of that, this is about your answers to these questions. And the thing is some of your answers have just been plain wrong. How can anybody trust anything you say on this?

Look, my role in this is clear. It’s on the record. The material I’ve supplied has been investigated by the police. The issue has now been resolved at a political level. Todd Barclay, as a young guy, has made a brave decision to leave politics because of the situation as it’s unfolded. Our job is to resolve what is actually messy personnel issues within our party, do that effectively so we can get on with governing. I’m not a lawyer.

But aside from your own failures here, basically, to own up to your own role, you also sat by and watched Todd Barclay lie publicly; he lied to senior National Party figures, he lied at his reselection. Is that ok with you that you just stand by?

You’re making that assertion. It’s never been established that the alleged incident around the recording actually occurred. In any case, the discussion around—

He told you it happened.

His selection was carried out because of these events, and all the facts were known to his local electorate. In our system there was no charges laid. There was a confidential settlement of the employment dispute in our system. And local electorate is responsible for the selection of the candidate. They were aware of the background and went ahead and selected him.

Do you not feel that you’ve owed voters more on this now that you look back and we look at all these statements? Do you not feel that, ‘I let the voters down here’?

No, I don’t feel that. I feel that these issues have now been resolved. The original dispute is just between two good people who fell out very badly, and it’s actually been an internal personnel matter. It’s been thoroughly investigated.

Why did he have to leave Parliament, then? Why did Todd Barclay have to leave Parliament? Because nothing had changed in all of this that whole time, except you got caught out. That’s all that’s changed.

No, I don’t agree with that. Todd made his own decision about retiring at the election. I think he came to the view it would be difficult to represent his constituents against the background of all the publicity around this and the different interpretations of the facts of the matter. That was his decision.

Do you feel that you’ve let down your own standards — your own standards of credibility, your own integrity — through this?

Well, look, other people will make a decision about that. I’m satisfied—

No, but what do you feel? Do you feel like you’ve let yourself down?

I’m satisfied that in a difficult situation, knowing the personalities better than a lot of people, that this has been handled about as well as it could. It’s sad. No one comes out of this better than before the events occurred. It’s a shame, a real shame. And I feel that more than most people because I know them, because it was my electorate. The matters have now come through to this point where Todd Barclay’s leaving Parliament. My job as the prime minister is to deal with these issues effectively — everyone knows that employment disputes are messy — and get on with governing in the interests of New Zealand. That’s what we’re doing. That’s why we’ve got a National Party conference this week about an election in three months.

You said then no one’s come out of this, sort of, well, have they?

No, and that’s just because of the basic depth and bitterness of the dispute and the consequences that have flowed from that.

And do you include yourself in that, Prime Minister?

Well, look, it’s much better not to have to deal with these issues. I don’t see any benefit in it at all. But my responsibility as a leader is to make sure they are dealt with, whatever the imperfections of everyone involved, and get on with the job that the public have for us. Because, actually, the public aren’t that interested in our internal employment disputes; what they’re interested in is good government that provides good jobs, incomes and opportunities.

But they’re interested in your integrity, aren’t they?

Well, yes ,they are.

All right, that’s a good place to leave it. Thank you very much, Prime Minister.

Thank you.