New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English faces questions in Todd Barclay's secret tape case

Wellington (New Zealand): Three months away from an election, Prime Minister of New Zealand Bill English is facing awkward questions about how he handled a lawmaker who is accused of making secret recordings and then lying about what he did.

File image of Bill English. Reuters

File image of Bill English. Reuters

English on Tuesday released a statement he made to police in 2016, saying that lawmaker Todd Barclay told him he left a recording device running in his district office and captured criticism from a staffer.

Under New Zealand law, it is illegal to secretly record other people's conversations. Police investigated Barclay, but the conservative lawmaker refused an interview and police said they closed the case due to insufficient evidence.

Barclay told reporters early on Tuesday that he was aware of the allegations and "totally refute them," a statement that echoed earlier denials.

But after English released his police statement, Barclay said he'd read it and accepted it.

"I'm sorry if any of the answers I gave this morning were misleading," Barclay said during a hastily arranged news conference.

He said that it was a stressful time during a difficult employment dispute, but that he couldn't comment further due to legal reasons. He left without answering any questions.

So far, Barclay hasn't faced any political sanctions. English was asked by reporters why he hadn't censured the lawmaker.

"I told the police. The police conducted an investigation," English said. "As far as I was concerned, that was the end of the matter. Now it's a matter for Todd around the statements he might have made."

English released his police statement after an investigation by the Newsroom website revealed he sent texts that formed part of the police investigation.

In those texts, English said Barclay had recorded staffer Glenys Dickson. He said that after Dickson quit, she'd been given a settlement that was larger than normal "because of the privacy breach," and that part of it had been paid for from the prime minister's budget. "Everyone unhappy," English wrote in one text, according to Newsroom.

English has declined to say how much Dickson was paid.

Opposition leader Andrew Little said that English's previous comments about the case were dismissive and that he seemed to be covering things up to protect Barclay.

"All that time he was, in fact, donkey deep in this scandal," Little said in a statement.

Recent opinion polls indicate that English's National Party remains the most popular party and English the preferred prime minister ahead of September's nationwide elections. Under New Zealand's proportional voting system, larger parties typically form alliances with smaller parties to govern.


Updated Date: Jun 20, 2017 13:25 PM

Also Watch

Social Media Star: Abhishek Bachchan, Varun Grover reveal how they handle selfies, trolls and broccoli
  • Monday, July 16, 2018 It's a Wrap: Soorma star Diljit Dosanjh and Hockey legend Sandeep Singh in conversation with Parul Sharma
  • Monday, July 16, 2018 Watch: Dalit man in Uttar Pradesh defies decades of prejudice by taking out baraat in Thakur-dominated Nizampur village
  • Monday, July 16, 2018 India's water crisis: After govt apathy, Odisha farmer carves out 3-km canal from hills to tackle scarcity in village
  • Sunday, July 15, 2018 Maurizio Sarri, named as new Chelsea manager, is owner Roman Abramovich's latest gamble in quest for 'perfect football'

Also See