Parliament officials knew details of Barclay tapes

Exclusive: Intercepted discussions in the Clutha-Southland MP's electorate office included talk of "sex and drugs", a source tells Newsroom

Parliamentary officials knew details of the Todd Barclay tapes and confirmed their content to the lawyer of the woman he clandestinely recorded.

The Parliamentary Service told Christchurch lawyer Kathryn Dalziel that there was a tape and her client, Glenys Dickson, was recorded discussing the MP.

Dalziel was told one intercepted conversation involved talk of "sex and drug matters".

Dickson was Barclay’s electoral agent based in Gore.

Yesterday, she was re-interviewed by police in Invercargill - and police headquarters has now confirmed it is re-opening the investigation into Barclay under a senior detective.

The information regarding Dalziel’s discussions with the Parliamentary Service is contained in Dickson’s original statement to police on February 29, 2016.

Newsroom has Dickson’s un-redacted statement, which has not previously been made public.

In it she says Dalziel had begun negotiating with the Parliamentary Service over her severance conditions after the dispute with Barclay arose.

The lawyer wanted a higher settlement than the Parliamentary Service was prepared to pay but the situation changed after it became clear Dickson’s privacy had been breached.

“They told her (Dalziel) about the recordings that Todd had. This is the same information that I had received from Bill English.

"Consequently, she then went back to Parliamentary Services and negotiations continued. They then came back within a day and accepted the original offer that we had asked for.

"It seemed strange that they’d changed their decision so quickly within a day.

"Catherine (sic) Dalziel also told me that she had spoken to Parliamentary Services and that they had acknowledged there was recorded conversations involving me which concerned Todd Barclay regarding sex and drug matters.

"In relation to that conversation the only one that I can recall is one that I had with Barbara Swan from Queenstown." (Swan worked in the MP's Queenstown office electoral agent).

Dickson told police she believed Dalziel had talked to someone at the Parliamentary Service whose first name was Fleur.

Newsroom understands Dickson is referring to Fleur Murray, who is the chief privacy officer at the Parliamentary Service.

Her statement went on: "I had approached Parliamentary Services a number of times with concerns about Todd but to no avail.

"I have no idea how these recordings would have been done."

Newsroom approached Dalziel, but she declined to discuss the case publicly. 

Newsroom also asked the Parliamentary Service if any of its staff had listened to the recordings or how it became aware of the details. We also asked if it provided a statement to police as part of the original investigation and if so, what evidence did it provide.

We have not yet received answers to the questions.

Dickson has told Newsroom that she had the conversation with Swan after Barclay pulled out of the prize-giving ceremony at the Telford Agricultural institute in Balclutha.

He was the guest of honour but had remained in Queenstown where he had been partying the night before. He later produced a doctor's certificate saying he was suffering from exhaustion.

The Queenstown incident followed a list of issues that had concerned staff enough that they had sought advice from National Party board members and the Parliamentary Service. At this point, National Party staff in Gore, Queenstown and Southland started discussing Barclay’s suitability to be an MP.

Since Newsroom broke the story last week, Prime Minister Bill English has sought to cast doubt over the existence of the recordings.

Speaking to media at Parliament hours after the story broke, English said it was still unclear “just what might or might not have happened” in terms of any recording.

He stuck to that line when appearing on TV3’s The Nation last Saturday, saying repeatedly: “The fact of a recording has never actually been established.”

Back in February last year, English had sent texts to the chair of the Clutha-Southland electorate, Stuart Davie, advising him that Barclay had recorded Dickson: "He left a dictaphone running that picked up all conversations in the office. Just the office end of phone conversations. The settlement was larger than normal because of the privacy breach."

English also confirmed that Dickson had received an additional payment on top of her severance pay because of a privacy breach and that everbody was “unhappy” about what had happened.

The extra payment came from the then-Prime Minister Sir John Key’s Leader's fund.

Further reading:
The original investigation: Politicians, police, and the payout
The background: Todd Barclay's file of denial
The analysis: How Barclay's career went up in smoke
The update: What the board knew

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