On the go and no time to finish that story right now? Your News is the place for you to save content to read later from any device. Register with us and content you save will appear here so you can access them to read later.
Because the events are historic, they can't be undone and the options for mitigation are limited.
Things have the potential to get worse, not better, especially if the police reopen their inquiry, as they should.
This weekend, at the National Party conference, English's priority is not necessarily trying to restore his credibility with the public.
His immediate challenge is to address the damage within his party and convince them he has the judgment worthy of their commitment to election day.
Among members, the scapegoats are the ex-Clutha-Southland National Party members who fell out with Barclay and whose whistle-blowing has had maximum effect.
They stand accused of deliberate sabotage of National - as though the judgment of Barclay and English was irrelevant.
But English's fall from grace is much higher because over many years he has earned himself a reputation as the conscience of the party.
It was mainly through his devotion to the social policy issues but the flow-on effect has been that he has been regarded as a man of substance and principle. Voters have been weighing up whether to give the once-failed leader a second chance.
English's most obvious course of mitigation, an acknowledgement of the severity of his own failures, is one he has avoided.
The closest English came to it was on Thursday at a media stand-up in Auckland when he finally acknowledged that what Barclay had done was "not good behaviour" and that he had told him so at the time.