Prime Minister Bill English has confirmed he deleted hundreds of text messages he sent to Todd Barclay’s former staff member Glenys Dickson.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has phone records of the texts, and has told Parliament Mr English sent about 450 to Ms Dickson in the months before she quit her job in the Clutha-Southland MP’s Gore electorate office.
Mrs Dickson resigned following allegations Mr Barclay had secretly recorded staff conversations in the office.
Police have reopened their investigation into the allegations and the scandal has forced Mr Barclay to stand down from re-election.
Mr English has not denied sending the text messages and yesterday said he had deleted them as a matter of course.
“I regularly keep the number of texts on my phone down as a security measure it’s a good habit,” he said.
Mr English, who worked with Mrs Dickson for about 20 years when he was Clutha-Southland MP, said the texts had nothing to do with his ministerial responsibilities.
He said he had not broken any rules around the archiving of public records. “We have a system where any texts related to government decisions are archived,” he said.
“Those certainly weren’t in my ministerial capacity.” NZN