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Barclay offered to play PM recordings

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 25/06/2017 Karen Sweeney

Days after struggling to recall who told him National MP Todd Barclay may have secretly recorded former staff members, Bill English has admitted the soon-to-be former MP offered to play him the recordings.

But the prime minister still maintains the existence of the recordings, which were at the centre of a 10-month police investigation, has not been confirmed.

Labour leader Andrew Little says it's starting to look as though there's something significant on the tapes.

"It looks like they're trying to conceal something from us - I reckon those tapes are out there and we've got to know what's on them," he said.

"Bill English is all over the show. He's stringing together a set of statements and stories that don't stack up - I don't believe him on this issue."

Mr English told reporters after his National Party conference speech on Sunday morning that he had not listened to the recordings, allegedly made by Mr Barclay of his former electorate staffer Glenys Dickson without her knowledge during an employment dispute.

"Did he offer to play me the recording? Yes he did," he admitted.

"I simply don't know [if a recording was made]. I know what I was told and I passed that information to people who had the full power of the law to actually investigate what happened and they came to a point where they did not lay charges."

But Mr English, who did not tell police about Mr Barclay's offer, would not elaborate on how both those statements could be accurate, only saying he wasn't denying anything and would not question a 10-month police investigation which did not result in charges.

Labour's Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson earlier called claims questioning the tapes' existence bizarre.

"In his desperate attempt to distance himself, Bill English has made the fanciful claim that the recordings may not have happened," he said.

Mr English said he did not listen to the recordings because he didn't think it was appropriate to take up Mr Barclay's offer when he wasn't party to the pair's ongoing dispute.

He twice avoided questions about whether he told Mr Barclay to wipe recordings, before finally saying he had not.

Mr English was also questioned over new claims by Newsroom that National Party board member Glenda Hughes had urged Ms Dickson to withdraw her complaint to police about being secretly recorded by Mr Barclay.

"The board member explained to me if I withdrew my complaint I would be considered a hostile witness and the police would not have had a case," Ms Dickson told the website.

Mr English said he had not spoken to Ms Hughes over the weekend about the claims.

"Whatever allegations are there I'm sure could be looked at by the party or the police. I'm not aware of them," he said.

One of Mr English's press secretaries then stepped in and tried to pull him away from the press conference, but backed down when questions turned to Labour.

Mr Barclay announced on Wednesday he would not stand as National's Clutha-Southland candidate in the September election and would leave politics after the election.

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