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PM's fund used to settle complaint: report

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6 days ago

Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay © Facebook/Todd Barclay MP Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay The prime minister's leader's fund was used to pay hush money to a former staffer for Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay's office, according to a report.

A Newsroom investigation says Bill English knew about the confidential payment, allegedly made to Glenys Dickson after a dispute over recorded conversations early last year.

The media organisation has obtained an unredacted police statement by electorate chairman Stuart Davie that contains a series of text messages with Mr English on February 21, 2016.

It has also interviewed former electorate agent Ms Dickson.

Mr Barclay, 27, who took over the southern electorate from Mr English in 2014, is alleged to have told Mr English what he did but not the electorate chairman.

Mr English told Mr Davie that Mr Barclay left a dictaphone running that picked up the office-end of conversation and that the settlement was larger than normal because of the privacy breach.

Mr Davie gave Mr Barclay a chance to come clean at the AGM of the Gore branch of the National Party and he denied recording Ms Dickson, even though he had admitted it to Mr English.

A police investigation was dropped because of lack of evidence. Mr Barclay declined to make a statement to police.

Comment is being sought from Mr Barclay and Mr English.

Labour leader Andrew Little says the story has been around for a few years.

"Obviously there was a reasonably significant payout and it has been funded at least in part from the prime minister's office which I would have thought was unusual," he told RNZ on Tuesday.

It was disturbing an MP facing allegations and a police inquiry refused to co-operate, he said.

Mr Barclay, a public relations consultant was selected by National for Clutha-Southland electorate held by Mr English for 24 years when Mr English became a list MP.

He grew up in Dipton and Gore and worked for Mr English and cabinet ministers Hekia Parata and Gerry Brownlee before joining a public relations consultancy and then moving on to be the corporate affairs manager for tobacco company Philip Morris.

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