The Todd Barclay story matters, not because it is about a new MP who is accused of taping his former electorate agent's office conversations before she agreed to resign in an employment dispute.

This is not about an employment dispute.

It is now about the Prime Minister, trust and credibility.

With the emergence on Newsroom today of a text that English sent to former electorate chairman Stuart Davie about the matter, what the PM knew and when becomes very important.


The text that English sent on February 21 last year makes a statement of fact in response to a text from Davie who said Barclay had denied the taping allegations and asking English if it was true.

English: "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."

Asked by Davie is that was the end of the matter, English texted: "Yes. He and Glenys bound by confidentially. Glenys settlement large to avoid potential legal action. Had to be part paid by prime minister's budget. Everyone unhappy."

Bill English is usually a careful and honest man.

He is not the sort of person who would represent a mere allegation in the midst of an ugly employment dispute as fact to his former electorate chairman.

English had reason to state it as fact last year, when he was merely the former MP for Clutha-Southland and was known to all parties.

Today as Prime Minister he has conveniently forgotten how he came to make the statement as fact. His previous certainty has morphed into amnesia.

He says he cannot recall who told him about the recording.

That sounds as believable as Todd Barclay did when he said he would fully co-operate with the police investigation.

In papers involving the investigation released by the police in March, it revealed that his solicitor told police that Barclay would not be making a statement.

What we now also know about the OIA papers released by the police was that they were missing two vital pieces of information: a statement made to them by Bill English about the recording and the text messages between English and Davie.

Quite why those pieces of information were missing is yet to be explained by the police.

If the police want to avoid assumptions that they have withheld information that would be damaging to their political masters, they should release English's statement forthwith.
His reputation and theirs may depend on it.