Bill English accused of misleading Parliament

Bill English has been accused of misleading Parliament over his claim yesterday that he reported the Todd Barclay incident to police.

Today the Prime Minister admitted he used what he calls "imprecise language" - and it was the police who came to him about the Todd Barclay recording.

Mr English was emphatic in Parliament yesterday that he'd "reported it to the police". But today came an admission - "they approached me".

And what's more, he lawyered up before the interview. "I did get legal advice, yes," he said today.

The Prime Minister's shifting language has been seized on by Labour, with Grant Robertson asking in Parliament: "Why did the Prime Minister try to present yesterday that he had reported the matter to police?"

Mr English wasn't in Parliament today - but an admission came on his behalf that no, he didn't actually report it.

"There was imprecise language used," Gerry Brownlee told the House.

The Prime Minister hasn't properly corrected the record himself, and now Labour have complained to the speaker.

"The Prime Minister was clearly using his time in Parliament yesterday to make out that he had done something that he hadn't," Mr Roberston told Newshub.

"That is a very severe breach of Parliament's rules."

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said Mr English needs to stand down, "just like Barclay".

"He misled the media, he misled the House."

There's also questions about why the Prime Minister's statement wasn't released by police under the Official Information Act when a request was made last year. Police "consulted" with the Prime Minister as to whether it could be released.

"A staff member advised them that whether or not Mr English's statement was released was a matter for police," a statement from the Prime Minister's Office reads.

"Because the text messages were private, and not sent in his ministerial capacity, it was suggested they should not be released publicly."

Mr Robertson said: "He's politicising the police by forcing them to make the decision about whether his police statement should be released publicly."

The Prime Minister was in Auckland today, finding a strange form of satisfaction during a visit with addicts at the Higher Ground drug rehabilitation trust.

"I have to say when I talk to the addicts today, nobody asked me about Todd Barclay," he said.

But there are still plenty of questions about whether he took the moral lower ground by keeping quiet over Mr Barclay.

Labour wants to drag the Prime Minister back into Parliament next week to correct the record, essentially a ritualistic form of humiliation.

It's very rare to see a Prime Minister have to do that, and that's Labour's intention.

They want to get him in there admitting that he didn't go to police but they came to him, and make him accountable for his shifting language. 


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