IPCA clear police of any wrong doing in the handling of the Todd Barclay secret recording investigation

NZ First leader Winston Peters says it's an "extraordinary" statement for the IPCA to say there was no misconduct by the ...
TOM LEE/STUFF

NZ First leader Winston Peters says it's an "extraordinary" statement for the IPCA to say there was no misconduct by the police in the investigation of a National MP.

Winston Peters is asking just how "independent" the police watchdog is after it cleared police of any neglect of duty in their handling of an investigation into a secret recording by National MP Todd Barclay.

Last month the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) received a complaint from someone not personally involved in the case about the police handling of an investigation into the National Party backbencher.

Barclay was forced to withdraw from contesting his Clutha-Southland seat at the September general election, in a cloud of controversy amid allegations he made secret recordings of electorate staffer Glenys Dickson, and a brain-fade from Prime Minister Bill English who momentarily forgot Barclay had admitted making the recordings to him.

Police have cleared of any wrongdoing in their handling of the investigation into MP Todd Barclay.
NICOLE JOHNSTONE/FAIRFAX NZ

Police have cleared of any wrongdoing in their handling of the investigation into MP Todd Barclay.

The police watchdog has decided not to pursue the complaint after being satisfied there was no misconduct or neglect by police, Radio NZ reported.

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But the NZ First leader said the seriousness of the allegations required "far more explanation that this".

Todd Barclay has been conspicuous by his absence.
JOHN HAWKINS/Stuff

Todd Barclay has been conspicuous by his absence.

Calls and emails from Stuff to the IPCA to get confirmation and an explanation for why the police have been cleared have gone unanswered.

"In my view, the police haven't satisfactorily answered why they didn't pursue the case. They had complaints of a recording, they had a complainant and to the best of my knowledge we have not been told who they talked to or didn't talk to," Peters said.

"But to say they're satisfied there was no misconduct is an extraordinary statement to make."

Clutha Southland MP Todd Barclay is nowhere to be seen since he announced he would resign at the election. Police have ...

Clutha Southland MP Todd Barclay is nowhere to be seen since he announced he would resign at the election. Police have been cleared of any misconduct or neglect in the handling of an investigation into him.

In June, IPCA case resolution manager Sarah Goodall said the complaint came after renewed media interest in the case and a decision by the police to re-open their case into Barclay.

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Barclay refused to cooperate with the original police investigation more than a year ago, which led to police closing the case saying they didn't have enough evidence to continue pursuing it.

Peters said the fact police have reopened the case "begs the question" why they ever closed it.

"There's not one law for the National Party and one for everyone else."

"I'm calling for the IPCA to give us a far more detailed explanation than what we have thus far.

"Don't forget the principal word in their name is independent," he said.

The complaint was made by Greymouth social worker Graeme Axford​ in late June. He said he was aggrieved at the disparity between the police response in the Barclay case and when Prime Minister John Key laid a complaint that freelance journalist Bradley Ambrose deliberately recorded a conversation between himself and former ACT leader John Banks during a photo-opportunity in 2011.

"They got search warrants and raided places and yet with Todd Barclay they never did any of that.

"I see it as favouritism. MPs are being treated differently to the average person."

The IPCA response to Axford on Tuesday said police had "provided the authority with information on this decision", but did not explain what it was or how it justified no further action.

"The authority is satisfied that police took appropriate advice and conducted appropriate assessments before closing their original investigation. We are satisfied there was no misconduct or neglect of duty on the part of police."

Senior Labour MP Grant Robertson said the IPCA clearing the police "doesn't change anything".

"Bill English and Todd Barclay still have a lot of questions to answer and the police have reopened their investigation because of that," he said.

Barclay is still under the spotlight, though he has fallen off the public radar since his resignation and has missed many public events, including MP's visits to his electorate, and has been absent from the House and select committees.

Barclay remains on his full $165,000 a year salary, bringing home $3000 a week, and also receives travel and accommodation expenses.

Both Prime Minister Bill English and deputy Paula Bennett have said they expect Barclay to show up to Parliament when the House is back sitting next week.

There are four sitting weeks left in the House before Parliament rises for the election.

 - Stuff

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