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Follow the money

Written By: - Date published: 10:39 pm, June 22nd, 2017 - 49 comments
Categories: bill english, Ethics, leadership, national, winston peters - Tags:

According to Bill English’s text message to electorate chair Stuart Davie on 21st February 2016, Glenys Dickson was given an extra payout from the Leader’s fund “to avoid potential legal action.” Besides English all parties knew at the time that the legal issue involved an unauthorised recording of Dickson’s conversations by Todd Barclay MP, potentially an offence against the Crimes Act.

As of today Bill English is insisting that Dickson’s payout was as a result of an employment dispute, and that in February no-one understood that there was any question of illegality involved. His exact words to John Campbell were: “While now there is an understanding that there was a potential offence, at the time that was not the case.” The text message gives the lie to that. Watch this and judge for yourself.

Parliamentary Services would only have authorised a standard payment for settlement of an employment dispute. But the Leader’s fund is discretionary, at the control of the Leader of the National Party’s office and not subject to any oversight once granted. It was the only source available for an extra payout in consideration for a condition of confidentiality “to avoid potential legal action.”  John Key would have known about the issue in February, Bill English by his own admission knew about it in February, Wayne Eagleson would have had to have authorised the payment. No wonder Bill English told the electorate chairman “everyone unhappy.”

All these points were covered in the original Newsroom story by Melanie Reid.

Winston Peters is right, Bill English should resign. Stuart Davie did. As he said “with what I knew, if these matters came out down the line, people would say what did you do? If I did nothing, I would be as complicit as Todd.”

Update: Tom Scott in today’s DomPost


49 comments on “Follow the money ”

  1. ianmac 1

    All those from National speaking of the affair use the phrase “it was an employment dispute” hence the payout. That is their defence for Barclay and the excuse for no further comment.
    But if at the time they knew not that a crime had been committed and that Barclay had nothing wrong, why the significant payout.
    “When a police investigation started it raised issues about possible offences and “I don’t think [it] had occurred to anybody that there may be some potential offence”, English said yesterday.” Tea pot tapes anyone?

    • dv 1.1

      Fancy the PM not knowing the law. (Again)

      • Paul Campbell 1.1.1

        Of course he knows the law – since Bill English has been in parliament he’s voted on changes to section 216B of the Crimes Act (the one about recording people) in 1997, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2009 and 2012

        Are you suggesting he’s such an incompetent MP that he’s not read what he was voting on at least one of those times?

        • Carolyn_nth

          Remember, also, English was recorded before the Nats became government, saying they’d say one thing while campaigning, and do another thing in government.

          The ruling that got a lot of coverage, was that the recording was legal because the person doing the recording was involved in the conversation being recorded. It was clearly stated at the time, that it was only illegal, if the person doing the covert recording was not part of the conversation being recorded.

    • Sacha 1.2

      The final payout to Dickson had two components – from Parliamentary Services for the employment dispute aspects and topped up from the PM’s leaders fund to avoid legal action by her over the privacy breach. English’s own txt to the electorate chair said so. He’s just being a liar now.

      • dukeofurl 1.2.1

        The PM leaders fund paid out Keys defamation settlement to Ambrose as well

        Its quite a few payments for various aspects of ‘secret recording’

        English was caught out by ‘secret recordings’ not long after winning the election in 2008, when at a national party function he was caught saying things ( selling kiwibank etc) that contradicted their election promises.
        In that situation the ‘secret recorder’ only released conversation that he was part of.

        English is well versed in the technicalities to secret recordings, but he lies because he has to.
        This was his words lies back in 2008

        “Bill English MP
        National Party Finance Spokesman

        5 August 2008

        Statement on secret recording

        “Statements of mine secretly recorded at a social function last Friday and published over the weekend have caused confusion and concern about National’s policy on Kiwibank and Working for Families,” says National Party Finance spokesman Bill English.

        “I did not choose my words well.……

        And more details

  2. Barfly 2

    So was Bill English comatose throughout the “teapot tapes” affair?… you know the one where the “evil ” Bradley Ambrose taped John Key and John Banks.

    Bill you are a poor liar, but a liar nonetheless.

    • You_Fool 2.1

      I am beginning to wonder why no one has put this to Bill English; How can he reconcile his comments that they didn’t know the breach of privacy by recording in the office was illegal when the teapot tapes were the centre of an intense explosion of demands from NACt and co that police investigate and the furor over if the tapes were made in a public place or not (being the centre of if it was a criminal offense or not). Or does Bill consider his office to be a public space?

      • Carolyn_nth 2.1.1

        It was raised at Question time on Wednesday – to Paula Bennett:

        James Shaw: Can she explain why police decided that there was not sufficient evidence to issue a search warrant for a National MP—Todd Barclay—when he recorded his staff members’ conversations, but when journalist Bradley Ambrose recorded former Prime Minister John Key’s conversation, police chose to raid the offices of TVNZ, TV3, and the Herald on Sunday?

        Hon Simon Bridges: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think there is a point where a Minister clearly has absolutely no responsibility, and that is—I would submit this question right now. It is entirely out of order.

        Mr SPEAKER: No. I have listened to the question, and the essence of the question to me is that, as Minister of Police, can she explain why the police did not take a particular course of action. To me, that is a legitimate question to ask the Minister. It is a relatively easy one for the Minister to answer.

        Hon PAULA BENNETT: No, because the police commissioner and the police have statutory independence, and a Minister—it is not appropriate for them to be involved.

        James Shaw: Has she or any other Minister, including Bill English, had conversations with police about allegations that a National Party board member politically interfered by threatening Glenys Dickson’s family over her complaints against Todd Barclay?

        Hon PAULA BENNETT: I can only speak in my capacity as the Minister of Police, and no.

        James Shaw: Has she or any other Minister, including Bill English, discouraged police from investigating the allegations that a National Party board member threatened Glenys Dickson and encouraged her to drop the complaint against Todd Barclay?

        Hon PAULA BENNETT: As the Minister of Police—the police have statutory independence. I know of no such incidences, so no.

        James Shaw: Does she expect New Zealanders to believe that police have not been influenced in their investigations by senior National Party figures, including the now Prime Minister, Bill English, who would rather the whole affair just went away?

        Hon PAULA BENNETT: Yes, I do, because the police are independent, and the statutory independence of the police commissioner from Ministers is clearly laid out in section 2 of the Policing Act 2008. I kind of find it offensive to police, his insinuations.

        And the questions were stonewalled by the Minister.

        • ianmac

          Of course even though the questions were stonewalled they did get asked and are now out there.

  3. weka 3

    Also interesting to see English use the Bart Simpson defence – “I didn’t do it”, and put it back on the locals in the electorate who selected Barclay again. A process which itself is now in dispute.

  4. Stuart Munro 4

    I’m pleased to see Glenys Dickson has found her feet as a councilor, and her success seems to show that there is a substantial non-corrupt conservative constituency which has been ill-served by parachuting in cesspools of suppurating corruption like Barclay.

    This is Bill’s real failure – you’re not ready for promotion until you’ve trained your successor, and Bill failed both of them. His failure in this parallels the gross and sustained economic failure his incompetence has visited upon our long suffering country. And he lied about it.

    • Brendon Harre 4.1

      Bill English knew that Todd Barclay had done wrong/broken the law, because Todd confessed to him that he had secretly taped his staff. Yet Bill let Todd pretend for over a year that no wrongdoing had occurred. Todd was going to public meetings, candidate selection events…… pretending no wrongdoing had occurred……. this in Bill’s old patch, his home country, with his old staffers….. and Bill did not tell his old constituents that yes Todd had done wrong, a simple public statement of the truth from Bill a year ago in any of those Southland meetings would have prevented this mess……

      What does that say about Bill? Will the public trust his morals? His judgement? His leadership?

      • Stuart Munro 4.1.1

        I imagine most Southlanders will not be deceived as to his behavior. But I expect they’ll simply keep voting blue and hope for a less hollow man next time around. And as far as that goes, good luck to them.

        But the conventions of our parliament are not there to be flouted – it took hundreds of years and lessons from many lousy governments and individuals to arrive at this system. It’s not perfect but it’s the best we have.

        English must go.

        • Brendon Harre

          I agree English is not suited to be the PM of NZ. I was hoping he would be better than John Key (I was not a fan) but he has turned out not to be.

          Bill English is a list candidate. The only way to get rid of him is not to vote National…..

          For Southland -lets hope they can get a more worthy MP representing them next time.

  5. mordecai 5

    Meanwhile…Labour are so poor they illegally hire immigrants, lie about it, lie to the students, stick them in substandard accommodation and then push all the blame on to the greatest political failure of all time, Matt McCarten. Follow the money, eh?

    [“they illegally hire immigrants”. Put up some good evidence of that (not hearsay). That means quoting specifically to prove your point, not just dropping some links. I’m putting you in moderation until you do, or you give a decent retraction. – weka]

    • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1

      … illegally hire…

      A defamatory assertion of fact? Or simply a sign of how desperately these munters want to stop talking about Bill English…

      • Anne 5.1.1

        Talking of defamation:

        I’m reminded of the defamatory rhetoric around Phil Goff just before the 2011 election. It may have cost him that election. Later, the current SIS Director formally and publicly apologised to him for the release of what turned out to be misinformation.

        I’m reminded of the defamatory rhetoric around David Cunliffe just before the 2014 election. It definitely cost him that election. Later, one of NZ’s most senior journalists publicly apologised to him for the part he played in what turned out to be a non-scandal.

        Are we now seeing the 2017 version designed to bring down Andrew Little?

        • mordecai

          Goff and Cunliffe brought themselves down. Goff was toast even before the ‘show me the money’ moment. Cunliffe, well where to start. Apologising or being a man. The baby bribe. Breaching the electoral act in a tweet. Padding his CV. Lying about Shane Jones backing him. Attacking Key for living in a Mansion while living in a 2.5m home in Herne Bay. How long have you got?

          • Anne

            You’re a first class rwnj moron who:
            and misrepresents the truth.

            Others are welcome to add to the list. 😈

      • mordecai 5.1.2

        Labour breached immigration laws by offering employment in exchange for compensation (http://bskstage.weblog.leidenuniv.nl/files/2017/05/New-Zealand-Labour-Party-2017-Campaign-Fellowship-1.pdf).

        Then there’s the lies, like claiming the scheme failed because it was over subscribed, when in fact the opposite was true. This is delightful.

        • dukeofurl

          Its not breaching immigration laws for those on Working Holiday Visas- working is explicitly allowed

    • Bearded Git 5.2

      Showing your desperation here mordeccai. A minor short-term management cock up with some interns, many of whom it now appears are very happy with their treatment, does not compare with the outgoing PM covering up an illegal act and lying about it, a situation that would be ongoing but for some brilliant journalism.

      Labour/Green bloc needs to keep the English cover-up story going for the next 3 months-he should resign.

      • mordecai 5.2.1

        “A minor short-term management cock up…”
        Breaking the law.
        Lying to cover up.
        Your description is a delightful euphemism.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          The police will be investigating any day now. Or not.

        • Barfly

          Astroturfing lying flame baiting troll. Which already banned clown are you that’s using a new name?

    • Mordecai jumps in when the heat reaches an unbearable level. The situation Bill English has found himself in created is blow-torch stuff and Mordecai might hope that, “Look! Over there!” will douse the conflagration, but it won’t.

    • weka 5.4

      see moderation note above.

    • He “sits at the king’s gate”, weka.
      They just can’t help themselves, can they.

    • mordecai 5.6

      Hi Weka.
      1. Labour Party advertising called for overseas students to ‘volunteer’ for a ‘fellowship’ scheme, in which they would be working, but not for any financial compensation.
      2. Those students were facilitated into NZ on Visitors Visas.
      3. Visitors Visa’s prohibit the recipient earning whilst in NZ.
      4. The students were offered accommodation and food (and more…but that’s yet to come out) as ‘compensation’.
      5. The students were required to commit to 30-40 hours ‘work’ per week. That is illegal under their Visa’s.
      6. The students were housed in slum like conditions, and lied to about the speakers.
      7. Finally, McCarten has claimed the scheme was ‘non-partisan’. Bull shit.


      This is the political party who want to cut back student Visa’s, campaign against the government on housing and overcrowding, and have lied to the public about this campaign from the get go.

      [not good enough. I said don’t drop links. I just keyword searched those links for ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ and got zero hits. I’m not going to trawl through all that to try and figure out what you’re talking about and if it’s real. Afaik no illegality has been established. You asserted a fact, it’s up to you to provide direct evidence, not your theory. I also have zero interest in your views on the matter in general, so don’t try my patience with that stuff. You’ve got until the end of the day to provide actual evidence, or give a decent retraction, otherwise I will moderate a ban. – weka]

      • mordecai 5.6.1

        Why am I not surprised? You asked, I delivered. Labour brought in students on visitor visa’s KNOWING they could not work, yet they offered them ’30-40 hours’ work per week. They knowingly offered them remuneration, again illegally. If you don’t understand that, I can’t help you.

        [It’s nothing to do with what I understand. It’s about you asserting something serious as fact and then not being able to provide evidence. You couldn’t even be bothered pulling some relevant quotes out of your links. All you’ve provided me with is your theory and beliefs about the issue. You could have linked and quoted the legislation. Even quoting someone credible with a legal opinion would have worked. There’s a difference between expressing opinion and asserting fact. This matters in election year even more so. 1 month ban for wasting my time. – weka]

  6. Treetop 6

    How many people are involved in the coverup?

    NZ voters will never know the players in the public being mislead by the government or the extent.

    Everyone covering for those who have over stepped the mark need to do the RIGHT thing and spill the beans.

  7. Cinny 7

    Good post thanks for explaining how the payment went down.

    Jacinda was straight up this morning, she called the outgoing PM a liar, which he is. As well she fronted up about the student volunteers, Labour, publicly taking action on their issue rather than trying to bury it and pay people to keep quiet. That’s the real teller for me, when there is a problem how is it handled. Labour has proven to be the winner in that game, honesty, dignified, apologetic and taking immediate action.

    Paula was yelling and ranting this morning. Using phrases from the National Party Thesaurus of Propaganda to desperately down play her lying leader and distract (let’s talk about ice skating shall we?).
    Paulas leopard coat, leather gloves and trashy fushia lipstick did her no favours either. JS, get a stylist.

    Anyways… that payment must have been a fairly decent sum, I’m not into public deception via a PM using hush money. Johns bailed on you Bill, and your lying over Barclay is not going away any time soon.

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    Winston Peters is right, Bill English should resign. Stuart Davie did. As he said “with what I knew, if these matters came out down the line, people would say what did you do? If I did nothing, I would be as complicit as Todd.”

    So he resigned instead of going to the police?

    I’d say that would be the same as doing nothing.

    • Mike Smith 8.1

      Not at all. Glenys Dickson laid a complaint with the police shortly after and Stuart Davie would have known she was doing that.

      • dukeofurl 8.1.1

        Plus they knew the ins and outs of the criminal law procedure.

        Someone went down to Gore to heavy Glenys to withdraw the complaint. Thats was important as they knew once the Police knew of a crime they had to investigate it but without a primary complainant ( Glenys) they would have had to Barclay more or less admit it before they could prosecute.
        He refused cooperation and the investigation died- as they knew it would
        peter Kiely is there go to guy of tricky law situations, having advised Key in the past and he acted for national in the Eminem case – despite him being an employment law expert

        “Peter Kiely is a respected legal professional and company director, as well as Chairman of National’s Rules Committee and advisor to the National Party on legal and electoral issues.”


  9. ianmac 9

    Wonder if it was Key’s involvement which landed Bill in the position tat he is in today? Maybe the PM at the time instructed the action which Bill cannot now contradict.

  10. simonm 10

    I’ve listened to John Campbell’s gentle but firm grilling of Bingles over this, and all I can say is thank God we still have one or two journalists with integrity left.

    Bingles repeats the mantra that it was “an employment dispute” about 50 times in the space of 8 minutes. This is straight out of the Lynton Crosby textbook and mirrors Theresa’s May’s attempts to answer any and all challenging questions about her leadership capabilities or policy positions by repeating the “strong and stable” slogan ad infinitum.

  11. simonm 11

    I think I’ve discovered who Bingles has been emulating with his wonderfully adept and erudite handling of the NZ media these last couple of days.

    The UK Tories’ very own “Bumbling Boris”…


  12. mosa 12

    National has form in this area -MIKE SABIN for a start.

  13. Treetop 13

    It has now become clear to me why Key settled with Ambrose and did not want Ambrose to pursue a defamation case against Key.

    Key and English both went to a great length to manage Dickson due to the thin majority that the government have and the fallout of the Ambrose and Dickson situations occurring at the same time. From what I have read about Dickson I do not think that Dickson would have been able to remain silent had the Ambrose defamation case against Key have gone to court.

    I also think that Dickson may have felt intimidated by the police and that the police could have done more for her. There are definitely double standards by the police when it comes to the handling of Key’s complaint of being unlawfully recorded and Dickson being unlawfully recorded.

    And what about the woman who conveyed a sensitive issue to Dickson which Barclay recorded?

    Every MP in NZ needs to assure constituents who ring or come to their office that they will not be secretly recorded. To think that English the prime minister of NZ has condoned this, leaves me feeling as though English is not fit to remain as prime minister.

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