After an explosive 24 hours of revelations, memory losses and returns, police have announced they are once again looking at secret recording claims against Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay.
Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers said in a statement: “Police are assessing the information that has been discussed publically in recent days in relation to any impact on the findings of the original Todd Barclay inquiry.”
Yesterday, Newsroom reported dozens of National Party members had called for police to reopen its investigation into the Clutha-Southland MP’s covert recordings of a former staffer.
About 50 members of the National Party’s Clutha-Southland branch have called for police to re-investigate allegations Todd Barclay secretly recorded his former electorate agent, Glenys Dickson.
Mavis Smith, a National Party member of more than 20 years told Newsroom the case has upset southern members.
“We have discussed it as a group and if the investigation can be reopened then it should be. It was never finished, was it?
“All of us are long standing members and we would never do [anything] against the National Party. We are used to the party dealing with its own dirty linen so to speak, but this just hasn’t happened here.”
No charges were laid against Barclay despite strong evidence he secretly recorded his former staffer Glenys Dickson.
He then paid her hush money after she engaged an employment lawyer.
Police said the evidence to prosecute Barclay was not strong enough.
In a statement yesterday – in direct contrast to his words today – Chambers said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Barclay.
“The investigation is now considered closed. If any new information is brought to the attention of police then that information will be assessed by the investigating officers as to its relevance to this case.”
This statement is now being questioned by experts.
When police press charges, the Solicitor-General’s Prosecution Guidelines are used to weigh up the chance of a successful conviction and if there is enough public interest to justify proceedings.
A senior police source told Newsroom that media reports around the issue suggested there was sufficient evidence, and it was a no-brainer there was immense public interest.
The source doubted there was political pressure not to prosecute Barclay.
Independent Police Conduct Authority spokesman Peter Rosendale said a complaint has not been received regarding the issue.
If one was received by the police watchdog, it would be assessed, he said.
When asked why information in Bill English’s statement to police about Barclay was redacted in responses to media, police told Newsroom: “In considering the privacy interests in this case, as the matter never proceeded to prosecution, police consulted those individuals who provided statements as part of the investigation.”
“The redacted file that was released took into account the views of the individuals consulted.”
Copies of the text messages referred to in the police interview with Bill English were not included because “their contents did not require documenting in the interview itself”.
* Additional reporting by Teuila Fuatai
Watch: The full investigation story on Newsroom
Watch: Todd Barclay responds to Newsroom’s questions
Read: The timeline of events leading to Newsroom’s investigation
Read: Barclay payout raises questions over leader’s fund