Police are assessing recent information in relation to their investigation of embattled National MP Todd Barclay - as Prime Minister Bill English says there are "ongoing discussions" about Barclay's future.

English attended Federated Farmers annual conference in Wellington today. Asked whether Barclay should resign, he said: "There's ongoing discussions, I'll have more to say at 2 o'clock."

Barclay has been in talks with senior party members in the Beehive this morning.

And the Herald understands the Office of the Privacy Commissioner is making inquiries after receiving a complaint from Barclay's former electorate agent, Glenys Dickson.

Advertisement

Earlier, Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers confirmed the review of information to the Herald this morning.

"NZ Police are assessing the information that has been discussed publically in recent days in relation to any impact on the findings of the original Todd Barclay inquiry."

Police launched a 10-month investigation after Dickson claimed Barclay secretly recorded her conversations. Police declined to press charges, saying there was insufficient evidence.

That was despite Prime Minister Bill English providing a statement that Barclay told him he left a dictaphone running in his electorate office, recording his staff.

Barclay declined to be interviewed by police, and told media he refuted the allegations.

However, after English released his police statement yesterday, Barclay read a short statement to media saying he regretted "misleading" statements, and he accepted English's statement as correct.

In a further development last night, Newstalk ZB reported a private security firm was alleged to have put CCTV into Barclay's electorate office, at his request, to observe a staff member.

Barclay has been approached for comment. He is the deputy chair of Parliament's education and science committee, which is sitting this morning.

However, the Herald understands he has been excused from attending by party whips.

Finance Minister Steven Joyce today declined to back Barclay, and said Barclay's statements yesterday "didn't match up".

However, Joyce told Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB he expected Barclay to still be Clutha-Southland MP by the end of today.

Asked if Barclay was a liar, Joyce said, "well, I must say, his two statements yesterday didn't exactly match up, did they? But that's for him to sort out, and it's actually for him to sort out for the party in Clutha-Southland."

Asked if he wanted Barclay to quit, Joyce said "I don't have a view on that".

This morning, Labour leader Andrew Little said Barclay's statement last night - and refusal to answer media questions - was "an expression of arrogance".

"It didn't show any contrition at all about the impact on Glenys Dickson. Not even on his leader. And he turned on his heels and walked away."

Little said it was clear Barclay could not continue to be an MP. There was enough information now for police to re-open their investigation.

He said it wasn't clear why English had continued to "effectively be part of the cover-up".

"There clearly is something going on inside the National Party. And it seems to be not just with the politicians, it will be at the board level, at the party official level. But something is now being exposed."

"For Bill English, the more this goes on, his credibility - which has been damaged - [it] will only get worse for him until action is taken against Todd Barclay."

Meanwhile, Clutha mayor Bryan Cadogan said things do not look good for Barclay.

"If the tapes exist, he has to do the honourable thing. And if the tapes don't exist, what was Bill English's statement?"

Police tried to speak to Barclay after claims in 2016 that he had recorded Dickson, his senior electorate agent, without her knowledge, which he denied.

Barclay told reporters he would co-operate with the police but his lawyer later said he would not. The investigation was dropped because of a lack of evidence and in March this year it was revealed that Barclay had refused to co-operate.

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

'Disturbing claim'

University of Otago law professor Andrew Geddis said a particularly disturbing claim in the Newsroom investigation was that a National Party board member had approached Glenys Dickson to speak about her withdrawing her complaint to police about Barclay.

The Newsroom investigation quoted Dickson saying she was told "if I didn't withdraw the police complaint I could potentially take down the National Party, and there was an [implication] that if National didn't have Barclay in Parliament they were one short to pass legislation" .

Newsroom reported that Dickson was told a high-profile court case would be difficult on her and her family.

"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," the website reported.

Geddis said it appeared an "unwise" phone call as it looked like an attempt to discourage someone from pursuing a complaint. He said it was considered a "very serious" offence and if it happened had the potential to attract charges carrying a maximum seven years in prison.

"It looks to me like the sort of allegation the police would investigate for obstruction of justice in other circumstances. The story is turning from 'what did Barclay do' to the cover up."

The Herald has asked Police National Headquarters if detectives will be investigating allegations that there was an approach to Dickson about withdrawing her complaint.

Geddis said the alleged breach in law on which Barclay was investigated needed to tick three boxes to be proved.

The first was there needed to be a recording with an "interception device", as the law phrased. In this case, he said, the "device" was alleged to be a dictaphone.

Then it needed to be proved it was a private conversation - in this case, said to be the electorate office where Dickson worked.

The third element was proving that the recording was made intentionally, he said.

"If you could prove all three elements, the offence carries a jailable offence of up to two years."

Conviction to the two-year point is the trigger which forces MPs to resign from Parliament.

He said Barclay's refusal to be interviewed by police was the right of any citizen. "As a lawyer, that's your first advice to a client - keep your mouth shut because anything you say is only going to hurt you."

But for Barclay, said Geddis, there was the factor of his being an MP in a party that has made much of law and order issues. He said it meant he invited a backlash when voters discovered he had opted to "lawyer up" rather than assist a police inquiry.