Details of a dispute between the Government's former KiwiBuild chief and a new ministry boss have emerged after documents were supplied from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's office under the Official Information Act.

Until now, few details have been revealed about what happened between ex-KiwiBuild boss Stephen Barclay and Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (MHUD) chief executive Andrew Crisp, leading up to the swift departure of the man heading the Government's flagship house-building policy.

But now Mike Munro, the Prime Minister's chief of staff, has supplied the Herald with information revealing that Crisp said Barclay's behaviour "was not consistent with standards expected of a senior public servant".

Further, the documents said the State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes had "agreed with Mr Crisp's judgment that these behaviours are unacceptable in the public service".


In response, Barclay told the Herald that Crisp appeared to have judged him before completing his investigation into the matters under dispute and he was shocked that Crisp had made that statement to Hughes when he could not defend himself.

"The dispute was about my management style and how I interacted with one or two staff, which, by the way, hasn't changed over my entire career and I have never had any complaints — verbal or written," Barclay said.

Andrew Crisp, Housing and Urban Development Ministry chief. Photo/supplied
Andrew Crisp, Housing and Urban Development Ministry chief. Photo/supplied

After seeing a copy of the document from Munro, Barclay said he wondered how Hughes agreed with Crisp because he had never spoken to Hughes or been asked for his views on the matter and was at a loss to know why that conclusion had been reached because it was untrue.

"My behaviour has not been unacceptable," Barclay said.

"The investigation was incomplete and the complainants, bar one, had pre-existing professional relationships with Crisp."

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Notes about the situation with Barclay came from State Services Commission principal media adviser Grahame Armstrong and were distributed on January 29 this year to the Prime Minister's chief press secretary Andrew Campbell and other senior staff — Crisp, Ranjani Ponnuchetty, Debbie Power, Alastair Hill, Daniel Perkins and Brad Tattersfield.

Armstrong's email with the notes was headed "MHUD proposed response", referring to the ministry's response to Barclay's January 29 radio interviews following the ministry's press release of January 28 that gave some specific detail regarding the departure.

Armstrong's note also said: "Given Mr Barclay's commentary in the media today, I think it's fair to say that we're talking about something that amounts to considerably more than what has been described by Mr Barclay as his management style" and "concerns about Mr Barclay's behaviour pre-date KiwiBuild's transfer to MHUD".

State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes. Photo/Mark Mitchell
State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes. Photo/Mark Mitchell

But Barclay yesterday took offence at that those statements, saying he did not expect to be judged in this way, for false information to be spread about him, or for his character to be attacked by those who were in a position of power.

Regarding the behaviour concerns, Barclay added: "No behavioural issues were ever raised with me prior to the transfer to MHUD. If the SSC statement is accurate, this suggests concerns were not coming from MBIE [the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment] and also suggests a lack of integrity from people not prepared to raise concerns directly with me".

Barclay said his lawyer was preparing papers for a constructive dismissal case.

He had also lodged complaints about the matter with both the Privacy Commissioner and the Ombudsman.