Newsroom Exclusive

Todd Barclay’s file of denial

Click on the player above to watch this special Newsroom investigation

The clandestine taping of an employee by Government MP Todd Barclay has resulted in a secret payment from former Prime Minister John Key’s leader’s budget to make the issue go away, Newsroom has revealed. 

Current Prime Minister Bill English knew about the payment and the bugging — and National Party board members and the Parliamentary Service also knew about the secret recordings. Barclay’s former electorate agent Glenys Dickson was paid the hush money after learning of the dictaphone left running in the Gore office and then engaging an employment lawyer.

The timeline of events is as follows:

January 2016
18 Jan:
Senior Clutha-Southland electorate agent Glenys Dickson considers her resignation.
21 Jan: Dickson hears her private conversations have been recorded.
28 Jan: Queenstown-based Clutha-Southland electorate agent Barbara Swan resigns.


February 2016
06 Feb:
Then-Deputy Prime Minister Bill English calls Dickson at home and says Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay has told him he has a recording of her.
07 Feb: Dickson resigns.
21 Feb: Clutha-Southland electorate chair Stuart Davie asks Barclay if he recorded Dickson. Barclay says "I never tapped the phone."
21 Feb:
A text message conversation between English and Davie confirms Dickson had been recorded with a dictaphone, and a settlement had been partly paid from then-PM, now Sir John Key's budget to prevent legal action over the alleged privacy breach.
24 Feb: Barclay tells the Gore National Party branch AGM he "categorically" denies any secret recording.
28 Feb: Davie resigns.
29 Feb: Dickson lays a complaint; police begin investigating use of an interception device.

March 2016
01 Mar: When asked by media if he had spoken to any of the parties involved in the resignations, Bill English says "no, not directly".
07 Mar: John Key tells RNZ: "From time to time you get changes in staff because the style's a bit different, but I don't need any details other than that".
08 Mar: 
Media report police investigation into Barclay. Responding to RNZ, he says: "I am not going to dignify that with a response." John Key, acting electorate chair Margaret Hishon, and National Party president Peter Goodfellow each say there are no concerns about Barclay.
10 Mar: Barclay tells media "if they [police] do contact me regarding any matter, then I will co-operate fully".


July 2016
12 Jul: Police contact Barclay and get a text reply saying he is overseas, due to return on July 29.
29 Jul: Barclay's solicitor says he will not co-operate with the police investigation.


November 2016
08 Nov: Barclay signs his candidate nomination form for the 2017 general election, declaring he knew of no impediment to his standing and nothing that could bring embarrassment to the National Party.
27 Nov: Barclay responds to media questions about the police investigation: "I don't know, I've never spoken to police."


December 2016
14 Dec: Barclay tells a meet-the-nominated-candidates event in Queenstown "no" when asked if he had been approached by police over several complaints about his conduct.
21 Dec: Barclay selected as the National Party candidate for Clutha-Southland in the 2017 general election.


March 2017
21 Mar: The NZ Herald reports a police file released under the Official Information Act shows Barclay refused to co-operate with police. New Prime Minister Bill English says he wass disappointed with the "employment dispute" in his old electorate, but it was "time for everyone to move on".
31 Mar: Barclay tells the Otago Daily Times he believed he could not "add value" by making a statement to police, and that he had no regrets about his handling of the issue.


Watch: The full investigation story on Newsroom
Watch: Todd Barclay responds to Newsroom
Read: Barclay payout raises questions over leader's fund

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