Politics

How Barclay’s career went up in smoke

Click on the player above to watch Melanie Reid's investigation in its entirety

A lot can happen in a day. Just ask Todd Barclay, soon to be the former National Party MP for Clutha-Southland.

Melanie Reid's investigation into allegations of secret recordings, bullying and intimidation, and questionable practices in the electorate candidacy process against the National Party MP went live here at Newsroom at 7am on Tuesday, June 20. From that moment, the clock began ticking.

Roughly 30 hours later, the bell tolled for Barclay's political career.

This is how the story unfolded:

Tuesday, June 20: 7am
Politicians, police, and the payout
By Melanie Reid

National MP Todd Barclay’s former electorate agent Glenys Dickson was paid hush money after learning he secretly recorded her in her office. After a long investigation, police dropped her case despite having a range of evidence - including texts between then-Deputy PM Bill English and the Clutha-Southland electorate chair.


Newsroom released teasers the night before on its Twitter and Facebook channels, prompting some anxious messages from Parliamentary press secretaries to our political editors.


Tuesday, June 20: 7am
Todd Barclay responds: 'I did nothing wrong'
By Sam Sachdeva

Speaking directly to Newsroom, Todd Barclay defended himself against accusations of secretly recording his former staffer, saying he “didn’t do anything wrong.”

Barclay denied speaking to Prime Minister Bill English about the recordings - despite a text from English to former electorate chair Stuart Davie seeming to confirm otherwise.


Tuesday, June 20: 7am
Barclay payout raises questions over leader's fund
By Sam Sachdeva

Eyebrows were raised by National using its leader’s fund to avoid potential legal action against Barclay, in the form of hush money paid to Dickson. Lawyer Graeme Edgeler told Newsroom greater transparency could help taxpayers could make up their own minds about how this fund is used.


Tuesday, June 20: 3.50pm
The PM or Barclay: Questionable truths
By Mark Jennings

English came under intense media pressure to confirm it was Barclay who had told him there were secret recordings of Dickson's private conversations.

In the morning, he told reporters he could not recall the source. His memory appeared to improve by the afternoon, when he released copies of the statement he gave police in April last year, in which it was claimed by English that Barclay had told him of the recordings.

When asked if that meant the MP was lying, English said Barclay needed to "account" for his statements.


Tuesday, June 20: 4.40pm
Investigation underway into Barclay's Clutha-Southland selection
By Sam Sachdeva and Melanie Reid

Barclay's candidacy for the Clutha-Southland seat in the 2017 general election came under National Party scrutiny after allegations of a rushed selection process, improper voting, and "stacking" of local delegates who were Barclay's family and supporters. 

The first-term MP said his selection was proof of his good character.

"I’ve gone through quite a robust local, transparent process, which I won quite convincingly - so my people and supporters down here clearly see it for what it is.”


Tuesday, June 20: 4.49pm
Southern Nats call for police to reopen Barclay case
By Morgan Tait

Representatives of the National Party's southern cohort called for police to reopen their investigation into the claims of secret recordings made against Barclay.

No charges were laid during the initial investigation, despite strong evidence against the MP.

Police would announce the following morning that the claims would be reassessed.



Tuesday, June 20: 6pm
Barclay sorry for 'misleading' comments
By Shane Cowlishaw

Barclay's memory had also improved after lunchtime and, shortly before 6pm, he appeared before media to admit he had told English about the recording allegations.

He stopped short of anouncing his resignation, however, saying the matter between he and Dickson was an "employment dispute" and there was fault on both sides - "like any breakdown in a relationship."


Wednesday, June 21: 7am
Allegations Barclay invented complaints
By Shane Cowlishaw

A new day brought fresh news of claims against Todd Barclay, this time concerning an allegation he himself had been reported to have made against Glenys Dickson.

In a statement given to the NZ Herald earlier this year, Barclay said he had referred complaints about Dickson to Parliamentary Services, who employed her to work in Barclay's office.

However a letter to Dickson from Parliamentary Services, seen by Newsroom, said there were no complaints against her. 


Wednesday, June 21: 7am
Bill English's worst day as PM
By Bernard Hickey

In a comment piece written for Newsroom, Bernard Hickey said he had never seen Prime Minister Bill English look "so subdued and grave" during an hour of questions in Parliament.

This observation was made after English had already chosen to throw his Clutha-Southland successor "under the bus" by informing media about his prior statement to police.


Wednesday, June 21: 12.10pm
Privacy Commissioner could investigate alleged recording
By Shane Cowlishaw

One of the key observations to arise as news of the claims against Barclay began to percolate was the matter of Glenys Dickson's privacy, and what consequences may follow. Newsroom reported that an investigation by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner could indeed follow after learning a complaint had been lodged by Dickson herself.


Wednesday, June 21: 1.30pm
Todd Barclay steps down
By Sam Sachdeva and Shane Cowlishaw

Gone. Not quite by lunchtime, but Todd Barclay's afternoon tea may have tasted like tar.

In a statement issued to media, the MP announced he would not be seeking re-election for the Clutha-Southland seat and would be leaving Parliament at the end of the current term.

Barclay continued to describe his issue with Dickson as an "employment dispute" and said he did not want what was "important" to the electorate to be distracted by the saga.

In a statement to Newsroom, Dickson said a great number of people had been "damaged by the situation" and expressed hope that healing could now begin. Stuart Davie, the former electorate chair who resigned from his position over the allegations against Barclay, said he took no pleasure from the news but Barclay had done the honourable thing by quitting.


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