Prime Minister Bill English is not denying that he sent hundreds of text messages to a former staffer who complained to the police about National MP Todd Barclay.

English would not confirm an allegation by NZ First Winston Peters that he sent 450 texts to Barclay's electorate staff member Glenys Dickson in a year, some of them in the middle of the night.

But he did discount the allegation, and said that he sometimes texted people at 1am if he could not get hold of them.

However, he rejected the suggestion that his regular communication with Dickson meant he was more involved in the controversy than he first let on.


Peters targeted English over his involvement in the case in Parliament last week. English declined to comment at the time.

He faced more questions about his communication with Dickson at his weekly press conference this afternoon, including whether he sent 22 texts to Dickson on the day she resigned and another 26 messages on the day after she resigned.

English said he had no further comment about the case: "All the commentary that can be made on that has been made."

He was also asked about his claim that he knew little about the controversy when he had texted one of the key players 450 times at the time.

"What I said was I wasn't involved with and didn't know about the nature of the employment settlement," English replied.

He said he was not concerned that his personal text messages might have been leaked to Peters or someone else.

Dickson worked in Barclay's electorate office and went to police with a complaint that the MP had secretly recorded her in the midst of an employment dispute. She previously worked for English during his time as the Clutha-Southland MP.

Barclay announced on June 21 he would not seek re-election in Clutha-Southland at the election. That decision came after English admitted that Barclay had told him he had made recordings of Dickson. Barclay had previously denied that he made any recordings.

Police have re-opened their investigation into Dickson's complaint. English said he had not been asked by police to hand over his text messages.