New Zealand leader faces questions over alleged secret tapes

New Zealand leader faces questions over alleged secret tapes

"The people of Clutha-Southland have been lumbered with Mr Barclay for another three months at least and New Zealand has a Prime Minister who was prepared to indulge in a cover up".

Mr English initially responded to questions saying "I can't recall", but later admitted he'd known about the recordings for over a year and that Mr Barclay had told him.

"The biggest threat to his career is that he is saying things that directly contradict his Prime Minister".

If the police documents are to be believed, only weeks before, Mr English had told his former electorate chairman a National Party MP had recorded staff conversations on a dictaphone, which resulted in a confidential settlement, leaving "everyone unhappy".

New Zealand First Clutha-Southland candidate Mark Patterson, a sheep and beef farmer in Lawrence, said Mr Barclay's position as a National MP was "untenable".

English released his police statement after an investigation by the Newsroom website revealed he sent texts that formed part of the police investigation.

"The police closed their case into Barclay after he refused to co-operate even though Bill English told them about the recording".

Newstalk ZB Political Editor Barry Soper said it has always been claimed the recording was on a dictaphone, but he now understands it was made after the surreptitious planting of CCTV cameras in the MP's Gore office.

Asked directly if he used a dictaphone to record Ms Dickson, he said: "I've seen the allegations and I totally refute them".

In another text, he then said a confidentiality settlement was struck between Mr Barclay and Ms Dickson to "avoid legal action", that it was larger than normal because of the privacy breach and was partly funded by the Prime Minister's leader's budget.

"I told the police".

"I read Mr English's comments to the police and accept it, the period in question was a very stressful one as I was in the midst of a hard employment dispute".

English has declined to say how much Dickson was paid. "Now it's a matter for Todd around the statements he might have made".

It is illegal to intentionally intercept by means of an interception device private communications you are not party to.

The series of events - about who knew what, when - has also put a glaring spotlight on the actions of Mr English, while he was Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, throughout previous year.

Mr English was asked a year ago if he knew the reasons for resignations, or if he had spoken to the people who had resigned, and said no.

He also said he was not aware of any specific problems between Mr Barclay and his former staff, but there was "clearly a changeover" going on and the MP was "building another team".

"I think it is better for me to say nothing at this stage and let the process take its course".

Mr Chambers said there was not enough evidence to seek search warrants during the Barclay investigation.