English can't rule out Barclay tape's destruction

Prime Minister Bill English can't rule out the possibility the secret recording made by MP Todd Barclay has been destroyed.

He told The AM Show on Monday morning if someone did order it destroyed, it wasn't him. But he couldn't say for sure if the tape still exists.

"I don't know. I can't know. I don't know," he told host Duncan Garner.

Twenty-seven-year-old Mr Barclay will be making an early exit from politics after it was revealed last week a payment of taxpayer money had been made to settle an employment dispute in his office - and Mr English knew about the secret recording he'd made of staff member Glenys Dickson.

Mr Barclay, after more than a year of saying he'd done nothing wrong, fell on his sword and said he wouldn't stand for re-election in the safe Clutha-Southland seat Mr English himself once held.

On Saturday, Mr English muddied the waters further by suggesting the tape was never recorded in the first place, despite telling police it was Mr Barclay himself that told him about it.

He's sticking with that line.

"I don't know whether it was or wasn't," Mr English told The AM Show. "I can only do what I did, which was the right thing to do - and that is take part in the police investigation and communicate to them what I knew."

Ms Dickson claimed last week she'd been pressured by a member of the National Party board to withdraw her complaint to police, or she could "take down" the party.

Newsroom.co.nz asked Glenda Hughes, a member of the National Party board, if she'd pressured Ms Dickson to resign. She declined to answer.

National president Peter Goodfellow said it was inappropriate to discuss confidential matters. Mr English says it would be "unusual" for the board not to intervene, but he doesn't know how it was handled.

"That was a matter for the party. I don't know what happened."

It's also been reported Ms Dickson's payout was higher than would usually be made because of the privacy breach. Mr English says he doesn't know what it was.

"Even if I did know, I couldn't say."