The police investigation into a text message allegedly sent from the cellphone of National's Sarah Dowie is continuing but neither the MP nor her party will say whether she is speaking to police.

It's a high-risk game, says Victoria University of Wellington political scientist Dr Bryce Edwards, because the public was likely to expect any MP to co-operate with police requests for assistance in investigations - and to tell voters they were doing so.

Edwards said it was likely Dowie's days as an MP were numbered after finding herself enmeshed with Ross and his catastrophic exit from the National Party.

Edwards said he believed it unlikely she would stand again in Invercargill. "I just assume they'll be looking around for a better candidate. She'll be told quietly not to put her name forward at the next election.


"She's brought such big problems for her party, I don't think she'll be forgiven."

The Herald revealed in January that police were investigating a message allegedly sent to former National MP Jami-Lee Ross by Dowie.

The police investigation was said to focus on whether the message constituted an incitement to self-harm, which is punishable by up to three years in prison. The text message included the words: "You deserve to die."

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Ross, 33, said the text message had prompted thoughts of suicide when he reviewed it, and other messages, after his extraordinary exit from the National Party last year.

The Botany MP had previously named Invercargill MP Dowie, 43, as one of the women with whom he had an extra-marital relationship. She was also married at the time.

Inquiries by the Herald suggest the police inquiry appears to be facing - and posing - similar issues to that which emerged during the investigation into National's former Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay.

The scandal which surrounded Barclay, who refused to speak to police or provide access to potentially key evidence, saw him withdraw from the selection process as candidate. He has ceased to be an MP and left to work overseas.

National Party leader Simon Bridges fronts media with a show of support from MPs. Photo / Mark Mitchell
National Party leader Simon Bridges fronts media with a show of support from MPs. Photo / Mark Mitchell

In Dowie's case, she has not responded to requests for comment and there has been no expression of support from the office of National Party leader Simon Bridges after an approach by the Herald.

Bridges was asked if he had discussed the alleged text message. He was also asked if Dowie had spoken to police or made her phone available to police should they seek to confirm it was the device from which the message was sent.

In response to these - and the question as to whether Bridges had confidence in Dowie - his office refused to comment. A spokeswoman responded: "Simon will not be commenting on a police investigation."

Ross has also not responded to requests for comment.

Edwards said the public had strong feelings about accountability as a cultural virtue which also applied to politicians.

"I think it is dangerous ground for an MP to refuse to co-operate with police or to not even say they are co-operating."

Edwards said Dowie would be within her rights to refuse to indulge police scrutiny but it did then open her to public examination. "She can't have it both ways."

The Herald was aware of a significant turnover in Dowie's local electorate committee since her original selection in 2014, and more recently.

Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross addresses media at a press conference during the week of his exit from the National Party. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross addresses media at a press conference during the week of his exit from the National Party. Photo / Mark Mitchell

A private investigator who previously worked on high-profile cases for the police said Dowie's mobile phone and its records could be important for any police investigation because it was part of the chain of evidence.

In the case of MPs, the phones are owned and bills paid by Parliamentary Services.

It would likely cause police similar concerns to that which detectives experienced when contemplating executing a warrant to search Barclay's electorate office or a production order to seize his phone.

Parliament has special rules for accessing offices used by MPs or devices it has paid for on which MPs have stored information.

In the Barclay case, Parliamentary Services - which is overseen by Parliament's Speaker Trevor Mallard - said it would only produce information with the MP's permission or with a warrant being produced.

The protocols require police to notify the Speaker if any search is sought. Mallard refused to tell the Herald whether he had been approached by police.

Barclay came into Parliament in 2014, the same election during which Dowie was elected. He was in the neighbouring electorate to Dowie when he was accused of secretly taping his electorate secretary.

Barclay told the public he would co-operate with police then avoided detectives before refusing, through a lawyer, to be interviewed.

Documents below were released by police after the investigation into Todd Barclay, former National MP.