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PM’s leadership in question over Barclay affair

The Prime Minister must belatedly show some leadership and compel Todd Barclay to front up to the Police, says Labour Leader Andrew Little.

“Twice today Bill English has been found wanting in this matter.

“First, Newsroom revealed that Mr English had had direct contact with electorate staff despite earlier denials he made last year.

“Then, before National’s caucus this morning, Mr English couldn’t recall who told him about the recordings made by Mr Barclay of his office staff. Just four hours later the Prime Minister released the statement he made to the Police in April last year, confirming that the Clutha-Southland MP had in fact told him about the recordings.

“The Prime Minister’s grasp of the truth in these matters has been found lacking.

“All of his answers prior to the Newsroom story over the past year have been deflecting, and dismissive. He even told media in March last year not to ‘overdramatise’ the situation.

“All that time he was, in fact, donkey deep in this scandal.

“The Prime Minister now has a backbench MP still refusing to cooperate with the Police.

“It’s now a matter of the Prime Minister’s leadership, integrity and credibility. He must tell Mr Barclay that he has to front up to the Police and tell the truth.

“Mr Barclay is not like every other citizen. He’s in a privileged position and it’s not good enough to say ‘I have a legal right not to be interviewed by the Police’. He’s in public office that demands public confidence and he has a moral duty to cooperate with the Police.

“How can he have any credibility when he is part of the institution of Parliament that allocates money for law and order in this country?

“All this reflects badly on a Prime Minister who appears to be simply covering up to protect his protégé in his old seat.

“This shoddy affair has all the hallmarks of a tired, arrogant government. The cracks are showing. After nine years we need a fresh approach and an honest, credible government,” says Andrew Little.