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PM says Barclay recording may not exist

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/06/2017

Labour says it's bizarre for Prime Minister Bill English to say a secret recording at the centre of the Todd Barclay scandal may not exist.

National MP Barclay isn't seeking re-election in Clutha-Southland, a seat held for many years by Mr English, after being embroiled in the alleged secret taping of staff in his Gore electorate office.

On Saturday Mr English repeatedly told Three's the Nation it had never been conclusively proven Mr Barclay had recorded anyone.

"The fact of a recording has never actually been established. The police investigated, came to no conclusion, no court decision," he said.

It was put to him that he had been "shifty" in statements made throughout the saga.

"No, I wasn't," Mr English said.

Labour's MP for Wellington Central Grant Robertson said Mr English's claim that the recording may not exist was bizarre.

"Todd Barclay told Bill English that he had recorded his staff member. There was a massive pay out made to the staff member because of that and Todd Barclay has resigned because of the recordings," he said.

"Now in his desperate attempt to distance himself, Bill English has made the fanciful claim that the recordings many not have happened."

Mr English defended his statements about what he knew by saying 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."

"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."

Mr English said he was not a lawyer and when the matter of the recording arose 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."

He said two good people he knew had fallen 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."

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