Police re-open investigation into National MP Todd Barclay; Development could allow English to shut up shop on discussing the matter; All eyes on how it will affect National's polling

Police re-open investigation into National MP Todd Barclay; Development could allow English to shut up shop on discussing the matter; All eyes on how it will affect National's polling

By Alex Tarrant

Police have re-opened their investigation into whether Clutha-Southland National MP Todd Barclay intercepted private communications.

This latest development in the ‘Barclay Affair’ should serve to help Prime Minister Bill English steer clear from having to answer questions on the matter, citing a wariness to not be seen interfering with a Police investigation. Read more on the implications for political polls and the Kiwi dollar further below.

Police Assistant Commissioner (Investigations) Richard Chambers said Tuesday the move to re-open the case “follows assessment of a range of information and comment in the public domain over the last week.”

Police have commenced speaking to a number of individuals who may have relevant information, Chambers said. “Any new evidence which is gathered will be carefully considered to determine what, if any impact it has on the outcome of the original investigation.

“This will be a thorough process with oversight from a senior detective, however at this stage we are unable to put a timeframe on how long it might take,” he said.

The move was expected after Barclay publicly announced last week that previous comments that he had not recorded a staffer’s conversations had been misleading – effectively confirming recordings had been made.

Barclay had previously declined to be interviewed by police during an initial 10-month investigation, which ended without any charges being laid. Then-Finance Minister Bill English told police in April last year that Barclay had told him recordings existed, but that he did not know whether Barclay was present at the time or a party to the conversations.

Under New Zealand law a person can record a conversation they are a party to without the other party knowing, but not private conversations they are not party to.

Feeding through to the polls?

One potential benefit for National from Police re-opening the investigation is this will provide an excuse for now-Prime Minister Bill English to not answer Opposition and media questions on the issue, even in Parliament’s debating chamber, if he chooses. Further questions are expected Tuesday and Wednesday during Question Time (2pm).

Whether this will serve to get English out from the middle of the saga is yet to be seen. As Interest.co.nz has written, the focus shifted on Monday to what the National Party board knew about the situation, and that blame may be laid on other individuals who made decisions on the pay out at the time, rather than on English’s actions or inactions.

A re-opening of the investigation should put the focus back on Barclay’s actions, although there is potential Police will again interview English on what he knew at the time about the affair. Expect the Opposition to try and keep English’s name in the spotlight, regardless.

On a broader level, the situation is being closely watched in terms of how much damage it could do to National in the polls ahead of the 23 September election. Various polls conducted after the Budget, but before the Barclay Affair re-emerged, had National sitting between 46% and 49%, which would likely allow the party back into power if its current partners picked up their existing seats.

Between 46% and 44% of the vote, National could still govern with the Maori Party, ACT and UnitedFuture if the Maori Party manages to pick up four seats. They currently have two, one of which is a list seat. Below that, National is likely to be in ‘Winston territory’, requiring New Zealand First support to be able to govern or pass legislation with a majority.

Roger J Kerr wrote on Monday that political opinion polls will be as important as economic indicators in setting the direction of the Kiwi dollar in coming months.

“Political risks on the NZ economy and NZ dollar exchange rate are set to increase over the next three months in the run up to the late September General Election,” Kerr wrote.

“From an offshore investor and currency speculator’s perspective the prospect of a potential change of Government to a more left-leaning Labour/Greens coalition would appear very strange to them given how well the economy is travelling. The NZ voting public rejecting the economic and employment growth for some other objectives would cause those overseas investors into NZ shares and bonds to reduce their holdings (thus become sellers of the NZ dollar in doing so),” he said.

“It does appear that the election campaign will be fought over immigration, housing and environmental issues (not financial/economic issues), therefore the incumbent National Government faces a real challenge to be re-elected for a record fourth term.

“Typically, political risk in New Zealand is not rated by overseas players as that influential for the currency. However, the prospect of a hung Parliament with NZ First’s leader Winston Peters calling the shots as to whom he will support to form a new Government would have to be unsettling for any foreign investor in the Kiwi dollar.”

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

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Close down the communication, get through the election and sail away for another 3 years - not withstanding many contributor's opposite views.

Thats right take away all the attention about the real issues of concern just like the Nicky Hager nonsense during the last election which focussed everyone on the allegations while the party messages were lost in the noise .

Todd Barclay's mess will make absolutely no difference to diehard National voters at the polls , and the other parties will get no space with this non-issue taking up the headlines and acres of press space

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This is not some vast left wing conspiracy. This is - from all appearances - a National MP committing a crime, National using taxpayer funds to hush people and cover up the crime, and the Prime Minister of New Zealand lying to the public to try to keep it quiet.

You're right that National's conduct won't make a difference to die-hard National voters, definitely. It's a wonder of the world what level of criminality from National would be required to affect their die-hard voters.

Assume by "diehard National voters" you mean the ~20% of people who voted for Bill last time he had a punt?

I'm with Bill English on this one. It's an ordinary employment dispute which went beyond ordinary. And if you have ever been close to an employment dispute, they do get out of hand, unreasonable and sometimes bizarre. After that Todd Barclay seems to have really messed up the story, and I am sure he has confused Bill as much as he has confused the rest of us.

There's talk of "sex and drugs" being at the centre of the dispute. There's going to be more details spill out in due course. As you've pointed out it's bad and given what's surfacing it's going to get worse.

I doubt there was sex and drugs involved , Barclay would have been bounced immediately.

If this article is credible and accurate then that's not the case. I'll wait for more details myself.
https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2017/06/27/36207/officials-details-barclay-tapes

Barclay has a certain scope of proclivity, which I learnt of a few years ago in Wellington.
I won't say anymore, but the aforementioned would not surprise me one bit.

He looks like the tweaker doof doof kind

lol - you'll enjoy this if you missed it a few week's ago before the Barclay story broke;

How bizarre! Absurdistan revisited

http://www.noted.co.nz/currently/politics/how-bizarre-absurdistan-revisi...

He'll have to now re-visit the already re-visited story :-)!

Like this bit about elderly parents coming in

They should take their parent with them

"And when their offspring leave for fresh opportunities overseas, we don’t demand they take their parents with them, even though the argument most commonly used for admitting them in the first place is that it is harsh and culturally inappropriate to separate parents and children"

Oh, come of it, we're not simple in the head.

Even if Barclay's motivation was some kind of beef with the long-time employees (why?) that isn't a justification for carrying out illegal recording without their knowledge, and it certainly isn't a valid defence. To carry out that kind of surveillance legally is restricted to various agencies with an investigative or enforcement role, and they have to jump through hoops and satisfy a judge that they have sufficient grounds for a warrant, with these grounds being reasonable suspicion of offences against specific legislation.

Then, there's the next stage, where the participants appear to have belatedly realised that this was very likely a crime, stonewalled investigators, and entered into a conspiracy to cover up that a crime had been committed, and used taxpayer funds for hush money.

Any employment dispute motivation which may have existed is an irrelevant red herring, because a) there's no evidence that a valid dispute existed, and it appears that in the absence of genuine grounds, Barclay invented false complaints from public against Dickson; and b) the legal procedures for a legitimate dispute weren't followed.

Oh come on Kakapo, it's hardly the crime of the century. Barclay has gone and that's good. Because he really dicked about when it went pearshaped and still confuses us all including Bill English.
The ones I feel sorry for are the cops. Because of the politics they are compelled the investigate and all the legal nonsense. Probably they would just prefer to tell all parties to grow up - maybe give Todd an ear tweak then close the file. But poor cops are stuck with it.

Ah, time for the special pleading, sweep it under the rug gambit now?

Crime's a crime. There isn't some magical line where somebody gets to commit one then brush consequences aside if they're inconvenient.

Party of personal responsibility my arse.

But he hasn't actually gone has he? He's just not going to re-stand in September.
A crime is a crime, and he should take accountability for his actions. We as a nation should demand and expect more of our MPs than this sort of behaviour. That which we step over we endorse.

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The real issue is Bill English's answers over the last week . Friday he says the tapes may not even exist , Saturday he admits Barclay told him about them , Sunday it emerges Barclay offered to play them to him .
The public are struggling to see how "honest Bill" had any doubt at all that the tapes existed.
And he keep insisting it is just an "employment issue". It would be except covertly taping someone is illegal.
However , I do think He has struggledin these areas, because he is having to cover up a mess his predecessor tried to sweep under the carpet, and he possibly did not agree with.

The real issue is that Barclay and honest Bill, John teflon Key and others mislead the country for 15 months and still haven't come clean. Sex, drugs and country and western at the Gore music awards...???!@!!

What other crimes can be filed under "just an employment issue", one wonders?

Probably anything up to and including murder, if the intention is for it to be a dog-whistle to the employers lobby.

Another question I have is, if the recording wasn't made - i.e. Bill's statements about the tape not existing have merit - then have National simply given out taxpayer funds to one of their members willy-nilly, and is it legal to simply hand out money?

The fact the America's Cup victory can't silence this story — and it hasn't — shows National is in deep, festering trouble. It may be passed off as an "employment dispute" by some, but anyone who isn't partisan can see this goes to the heart of what we expect in a leader and a government: integrity and leadership. It's interesting (and depressing) English appears not to see that, but he behaved the same way in 2009 over the accommodation rort. Even though he ended up paying $32,000 back to the taxpayer, he didn't see it as wrong, merely a "bad look".

Dont kid yourself , National is in no trouble at all over something as petty as this .

They are really in trouble over immigration policy and the damage it has done to us financially with ordinary folk unable to afford a roof over their heads .

Problem is Andrew Little has stated quite clearly that he does not intend to change the immigration settings and will keep them coming

I doubt the media will stay on the Barclay affair exclusively. But I am sure that throughout the election campaign National will be questioned harder on law and order, privacy (remember the PM is in charge of NZ spies -can he be trusted with that?) and trust issues than they would otherwise been if the Barclay affair had not been exposed to the public.

bill has a history of not being as some would say forgetful around events, where he gets in trouble is changing answers all the time unlike JK who would pick an ambiguous answer and stick to it.
if this effects national polling that would surprise me as its a non event made bad by fumbling around.
as for labours hypocritical stance on students coming in too work so stopping it but doing it themselves that will do more damage to their polling

The story against Labour is a right-wing beat up -which stupid journalists who have forgotten how to fact check have irresponsibly spread. Using phrases like -slave labour, concentration camps, exploitation of foreign students -these are all lies which stupid journalists and politicians have thrown around with complete disregard to the truth. The facts are one shower out of nine was broken in a marae (not a concentration camp). Political parties have always relied on volunteer labour (not slaves) and some of those have come from overseas. Two foreign volunteers were on visitor not work visas (not student visas) -so were sent away.

Basically there was some minor management problems -which were acknowledged and fixed -the fake outrage was way over the top and I doubt it will have much long term impact.

Grant Robertson was right to call Nick Smith a liar for accusing Labour of using foreign slave labour -he shouldn't have to apologise for that. Parliament was worse than kindergarten for kicking out the person saying the truth while allowing the liar to speak.

The Labour camp is a hilarious aside. Secretly National are wishing they thought of it first because it satisfies their ideology. The telling difference is in how Labour have taken swift action and started taking action prior to media attention. Contrast this with the Prime Minister lying to Police during an interview, and the State Services Commission being aware of a crime being committed and sweeping it under the rug with the budget of the Prime Minister's Office.

There are serious questions to ask. What else is coming out of that budget? Does the Prime Minister's Office have a bowl of ecstasy tablets instead of mints? Why did John Key really quit? I think there's a lot of other undiscovered issues that bring the entire Government's ethics and credibility into question.

The big "employment issue" is whether National will stay in power in September. For Bill it is an "employment issue" - I would not want to lose 2 elections!!

This whole thing is a waste of time , Barclay is gone ( it should have happened sooner ) , and Bill English made a statement to police in March 2016 , so what is there about this other than the opposition trying to make a story out if it ?

I see the whole reason why National insists on wasting money on drug testing a select portion of beneficiaries. It is to distract the public from the fact that all MPs are receiving tax payer handouts and that they should be drug tested. You wouldn't operate heavy machinery on drugs because it's not safe. I don't think the country should be run by people constantly taking drugs. Or at least if the MPs are going to carry on taking drugs they should really be sharing them.

Boatman did you see Southland Times yesterday editorial? They think Bill English has damaged his brand for straightforwardness, telling the truth.....
https://www.stuff.co.nz/opinion/94092238/english-wasnt-there-for-us

P.S Barclay is not gone, the taxpayer are still paying for him for the next 6 months -3 months pay to the election and 3 months pay which Parliament gives to standing down MPs post election.

Patrick Gower did a fairly good interview on the weekend if you are really interested in story Boatman. If you want a hint, the guts of the story is about Bill English and Nationals handling of the issue, not really what Barclay did originally. It shows a glimpse into what they are really like, and how they operate.

http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/shows/2017/06/interview-bill-english.html

It is a pretty funny watch if you forget he is currently in charge of the country...

Gower - "so you said black, but it was white." Bill - "yes". Gower - "so you flat out lied then." Bill - "no.. well you see it was a messy employment dispute whi..." rambles off into prepared position....

"Bill made a statement" - sounds like he did it voluntarily - yeah right
He was interrogated by the police only after he got legal advice after the fool put something in a text to Davies. Tell it like it was BoatMan or at least tell your paymasters that some levels of BS simply won't fly.

It was definitely not how he portrayed it in the early days of the expose - "just doing his social duty"

He is a liar by omission, a criminal for allowing a crime to continue when he knew different and a total klutz.

The question for me is who is going to investigate the police after they dropped this case after 10 months after getting an admission from the billshitter that Barclay was guilty as sin.

It is hard not to assume that the billshitter gave the police investigators some helpful career advice and until we get concrete evidence all of NZ is going to believe that.

And you can bet your last dollar that the results of the new police investigation will not be released until after the election. This allows BE to decline to comment or answer questions in Parliament because the matter is under investigation. Nice work..