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PM accused in parliament of lying

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/06/2017

Prime Minister Bill English has been accused in parliament of lying to the media over what he knew about Todd Barclay's alleged secret recording of an employee's conversations.

Opposition MPs used question time on Thursday to demand answers - which they didn't get - about what Mr English knew about the scandal that has ended Mr Barclay's political career.

Mr English made a statement to police in April last year confirming Mr Barclay had told him the recordings were made.

Since then he has denied having any detailed knowledge of the problems in the MP's Gore electorate office.

Mr English wasn't in parliament on Thursday and Gerry Brownlee took questions on his behalf.

Labour's Grant Robertson asked him: "Can't he see that a person who knows for more than a year that there has been taping of a staff member in an MP's office, only discloses that to police when questioned, lies to the media about what he knew and prevents the release of his statement to the police is involved in a cover up?"

Speaker David Carter ruled the question out of order, and Mr Brownlee didn't have to answer others because Mr English had not been acting in a ministerial capacity.

NZ First leader Winston Peters was also on the attack.

"If he has known about the Todd Barclay matter for well over a year, did his failure to recall conversations, communications and statements when asked by the media relate to his fear of implicating himself in an alleged crime?" he asked.

Mr Brownlee didn't have to answer that either.

Mr Peters went on to read extracts of what Mr English said in parliament on Wednesday and the text messages the prime minister exchanged with the former Clutha-Southland electorate chairman Stuart Davie, which have been published.

"Why did he reply in the House yesterday, when asked about the Barclay matter, reply `I was absolutely no party to that and I do not know what the dispute was and how it was settled'," Mr Peters asked.

He didn't get an answer.

Mr Peters earlier told reporters he had laid two complaints with Mr Carter accusing Mr English of misleading parliament - a serious offence.

"I've set out how he mislead the House and how he mislead the media and all the offences he's committed with respect of this very serious matter of his failure to recall and then tell the truth on what he knew," Mr Peters said.

Mr Carter will decide whether to refer the complaints to the privileges committee.

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