Live updates: Todd Barclay to step down after secret recording scandal

4:00pm: A cover up, English has shown "failure of leadership" - Little

Labour leader Andrew Little said there's been a cover up by the National party and Bill English failed to act as a leader. "This was a cover up by the National party…they were doing everything they could to conceal this from the public," he said.

"We can't have a Prime Minister who knew what was going on, intimately equated with these matters, did nothing to stop Todd Barclay misleading people over the last eighteen months."

Mr Little said the Prime Minister has displayed a "failure of leadership".

"When he knew Todd Barclay was saying things that were clearly misleading, clearly wrong, because he knew what the truth was, that's when he should have intervened and said 'you must front up'".

"That is a failure of leadership and it's simply not acceptable."

Mr Little said that Todd Barclay continues to call it an employment dispute when it is in fact "a criminal matter concerning him".

"The most clean political scandal I've seen for a long time" - Peters

New Zealand first leader Winston Peters said that the Barclay recording debacle is a clear cut political scandal.

He said that the then Prime Minister's office, Mr English and National party's governing board were "in collusion in covering up a crime" and "used taxpayers money to engage in the cover up". He said it's "the most clean political scandal I've seen for a long time".

2:50pm: PM questioned in Parliament over recording scandal

Mr English has said "allegations of a cover up are ridiculous" over the Todd Barclay recording scandal.

He was questioned by Labour leader Andrew Little in Parliament about his knowledge of the recording having taken place. The Prime Minister would not accept that he had covered up for what the Labour leader called Mr Barclay "lying". "I simply don't accept the member's assertion," he said.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters asked Mr English why he wouldn't resign when "it's clear to every independent commentator that this Prime Minister is complicit in a cover up". Mr English responded "My statement to the police stated what I knew of the circumstances, and I would have thought that making a statement to the police was not a cover up".

Mr Peters asked how anyone could trust the Prime Minister when he'd been part of a cover up and was involved with paying out hush money. He responded "There was an employment dispute which was settled between the employer and the employee, I was no party to that dispute or the settlement."

2:00pm:

Prime Minister Bill English said that he didn't discuss Mr Barclay's resignation with him, and that there has not been a cover up of the recording scandal.

Mr English said he doesn't regret his handling of the situation since the story came out on Tuesday, and said "My main regret here is that people I know fell out so badly and it's been an ongoing problem in different forms."

"I don't accept the assertion 'nothing was done about it'", Mr English told media.

"There was no element of knowledge of some action that was hidden, it was in fact communicated openly and in fact the allegations over this have been in the media for 18 months to two years."

English fronted up to media shortly after Todd Barclay announced he was stepping down.
English fronted up to media shortly after Todd Barclay announced he was stepping down. Photo credit: Lloyd Burr/ Newshub

1:20pm: 

Embattled Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay has stepped down as a candidate for the 2017 election, and will leave Parliament at the end of this term.

He said in a statement on Tuesday: "I don't want the issues that are important to Clutha-Southland and all of New Zealand to be distracted by an employment dispute.

"This has been a hard decision to make, but it is in the best interests of our Government and the National Party, and I wish the Prime Minister and our team all the best for the General Election."

Mr Barclay's announcement comes after allegations resurfaced he'd secretly recorded a staff member in his office. He denied the allegations for more than a year.

Prime Minister Bill English also became embroiled in the scandal, when it emerged Mr Barclay had told him last year about the recording taking place in the Gore electorate office.

It was revealed Mr English had told police about this in a statement in April 2016.

1:00pm:

The Prime Minister's chief press secretary Julie Ash has been spotted leaving Mr Barclay's office. 

12:30pm:

Prime Minister Bill English told media on Wednesday morning that there are "ongoing discussions" about whether beleaguered Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay should resign.

He said he'd have more to say in Parliament at 2:00pm, where a number of opposition leaders are expected to question him on the scandal.

Mr Barclay didn't show up to a select committee he was expected at on Wednesday morning, and has pulled out of an event he was expected to attend in Auckland on Wednesday evening. He was due to be representing Education Minister Nikki Kaye at an NZEI political panel.

It is understood that National MP for Whangerei Shane Reti will be there instead.

He is due to appear at the official opening of the Queenstown Winter Festival with Tourism Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett, which will take place on Thursday and Friday.

Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay speaking to media on Tuesday morning, he'd later u-turn on his statements.
Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay speaking to media on Tuesday morning, he'd later u-turn on his statements. Photo credit: Lloyd Burr/ Newshub

11:00am:

Police said on Wednesday morning they are "reassessing" the Todd Barclay recording investigation. It closed after 10 months, after Mr Barclay refused to speak to police and continued to deny the allegations. 

Prime Minister Bill English speaking to media on Tuesday morning, he said he couldn't recall how he knew about the alleged recording.
Prime Minister Bill English speaking to media on Tuesday morning, he said he couldn't recall how he knew about the alleged recording. Photo credit: Lloyd Burr/ Newshub

A recap of the key points:

  • Newsroom broke the story on Tuesday after speaking to former staffer Glenys Dickson. She told the news site her conversations were recorded by Mr Barclay and that the Prime Minister was aware of this. 
  • 59 percent of a Newshub audience survey say they care about the Todd Barclay affair 
  • It's reported that Ms Dickson received a pay out from the Prime Minister's leaders budget.
  • Both Mr English and Mr Barclay performed major u-turns on their statements to media about the allegations on Tuesday.
  • The Prime Minister released the police statement he made in April 2016 - which said Mr Barclay told him face to face that he'd recorded a staff member with a dictaphone.

Newshub.

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