Barclay affair: What the board knew
This article was first published June 25, 2017.
The National Party President Peter Goodfellow and its board allowed Todd Barclay to be selected as a candidate for the upcoming election despite knowing he was clearly unsuitable to be an MP.
Very detailed written accounts of the now-disgraced MP’s behaviour had been provided to the board and the candidate selection committee before they allowed his nomination to go forward.
The board and the selection committee knew Barclay had:
- already broken National Party rules by releasing the name of a challenging candidate.
- breached the rules by speaking to the media between the close of nomination and the close of the pre-selection process.
- spoken to his electoral office staff about employment matters that breached a confidentiality agreement.
- not declared police had asked him to be interviewed over the taping of conversations of staffer Glenys Dickson on his candidate nomination form.
- got staff in his Gore electorate office to canvass delegates to support his reselection when it was outside their contractual obligations and a misuse of taxpayer money.
And there were issues around a $5000 loan Barclay had been given by the party for campaigning. At this point the loan had not been repaid or disclosed in the campaign donation register.
The information was contained in a letter handed to Goodfellow at 10.45 am at the pre-selection meeting in the Balclutha sports complex on December 9, 2016.
National Party sources say they saw Goodfellow open the letter, read it and then put it in his jacket pocket.
The letter warned that if the media learned more about what Barclay had been up to, it would prove embarrassing for the National Party and particularly Bill English, who knew about the unlawful recording of conversations. The letter also said Barclay had tried to denigrate English for his own means,but didn’t say how.
Worried the board was doing nothing, National members from Gore sent further letters to Goodfellow and the board on December 21, January 24, January 30 this year.
Newsroom has copies of these letters and understands another five were sent to the board. In total, the board received at least nine letters outlining Barclay’s unsuitability as an MP.
Ten months earlier
Before this, in February 2016, former Clutha-Southland electorate chairman Stuart Davie had spoken at length to the Southern Regional chair Rachel Bird and National Party board member Kate Hazlett.
Davie was confident Barclay had acted illegally because Bill English, who was the former MP and then Deputy Prime Minister, texted him on February 21 saying:
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.
According to Davie, both the board member and the regional chair wanted “to shoot the messenger” rather than deal with Barclay.
English has told media on numerous occasions this past week that he discharged his responsibility in the matter by telling the electorate chairman Stuart Davie about Barclay's actions.
Davie did deal with it as he should have. As well as going to the regional chairperson he turned to the Southern member of the Party's board,Kate Hazlett.
Hazlett responded by telling him he "should not stand again for the electorate chair as he clearly didn’t support Todd”.
Davie told Newsroom he resigned a few days after this conversation because he knew Barclay was lying when he denied the secret recordings and he didn’t want to be part of any cover-up.
"They made up part of my statement to the police and Glenda was furious I'd given [the text messages] to police."
In late February the police began investigating Barclay about the use of an interception device to unlawfully record Dickson.
Davie says not long after, he also got a “rark up” from another board member Glenda Hughes about supplying the police with the text messages he’d received from Bill English .
“They made up part of my statement to the police and Glenda was furious I’d given them to the police.”
After Dickson complained to the police, Hughes urged her to withdraw the complaint.
“I was told if I didn’t withdraw the police complaint I could potentially take down the National Party, and there was an inference that if National didn’t have Barclay in Parliament they were one short to pass legislation.”
Dickson said she was also told that it would be difficult for her and her family if she had to appear in a high-profile court case.
“The board member explained to me if I withdrew my complaint I would be considered a hostile witness and the police would have not had a case.”
At this weekend’s party conference in Wellington Hughes refused to say if she had asked Dickson to withdraw the police complaint and referred reporters to Goodfellow.
When the same question was put to the president, he replied: "I have absolute confidence Glenda would have acted with integrity at all times."
Barclay was re-selected on December 21, 2016 amid claims there had been “delegate stacking” with his family members and supporters being signed up as voting delegates.
"I was told if I didn't withdraw the police complaint I could potentially take down the National Party, and there was an inference that if National didn't have Barclay in Parliament they were one short to pass legislation."
The discontent over Barclay's candidacy continued but worried party members were essentially ignored.
On February 10, this year a meeting was arranged with board member Hazlett at Mandeville near Gore.
Around a dozen local Party members who attended thought Hazlett was there to listen to their concerns after all the letter writing. They were wrong.
Hazlett told the meeting the Party’s lawyers were “all over” the police case and the signing of the candidate declaration and there was nothing wrong as far as she and the board were concerned.
Hazlett was questioned about the false declaration, the secret recordings and the $5000 but repeatedly told the gathering that “they [the National Party] could not fire Todd”.
Hazlett undertook to ask Goodfellow to reply to the letters that had been written but those present say no satisfactory response has ever been received.
Goodfellow rubbed further salt into the open wounds of the Clutha-Southland branch at a campaign planning meeting in Wellington on Friday afternoon.
He told members it was “ironic” that the issue with Barclay had come out on the eve of the conference and that if anyone had issues in their electorate to “just call me any time and we will sort it out”.
Many down South are wondering why on earth he didn’t do that 12 months ago.
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: 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 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.
Who in the National Party Board knew
By March 2016
Kate Hazlett National Party Board of Directors Member representing Southern electorates
Glenda Hughes National Party Board of Directors member
Rachel Bird Southern Regional chairperson representing Southern electorates
By December 2016
Letter addressed to the Selection Committee members received by Board Chairman Peter Goodfellow at pre selection meeting at sports complex in Balclutha
Letter addressed to Peter Goodfellow and the board was presented to board member Kate Hazlett in Winton
21 December Todd Barclay re selected to represent Clutha-Southland as National's Member of Parliament
By Jan 2017
24 Jan letter addressed to Peter Goodfellow and the Board
30 Jan letter addressed to Party President Peter Goodfellow.
Board representative Kate Hazlett addressed around a dozen National Party members in the meeting rooms at Mandeville Aviation Centre. She told the meeting that the National Party lawyers were all over the Barclay police case and the signing of the declaration and there was nothing wrong as far as she and the Board were concerned.
Newsroom exposes the full story