Prime Minister Bill English is not denying that he sent hundreds of text messages to a former staffer who complained to the police about National MP Todd Barclay.
Mr English would not confirm an allegation by New Zealand First Winston Peters that he sent 450 texts to Barclay’s electorate staff member Glenys Dickson in a year, some of them in the middle of the night.
He did discount the allegation, and said that he sometimes texted people at 1am if he could not get hold of them. However, he rejected the suggestion that his regular communication with Mrs Dickson meant he was more involved in the controversy than he first let on.
Mr Peters targeted English over his involvement in the case in Parliament last week. Mr English declined to comment at the time. He faced more questions about his communication with Mrs Dickson at his weekly press conference yesterday afternoon, including whether he sent 22 texts to Mrs Dickson on the day she resigned and another 26 messages on the day after she resigned.
Mr English said he had no further comment about the case: “All the commentary that can be made on that has been made.”
He said he could not recall his last contact with Mrs Dickson.
Many of the texts were sent at a time when Mrs Dickson, who worked for Mr English when he was Clutha-Southland MP, was involved in an employment dispute with Mr Barclay.
Mr English has repeatedly claimed to have had no involvement in the settlement of that dispute.
He was asked about his claim that he knew little about the controversy when he had texted one of the key players 450 times at the time. “What I said was I wasn’t involved with and didn’t know about the nature of the employment settlement,” Mr English replied.
He said he was not concerned that his personal text messages might have been leaked to Mr Peters or someone else. NZME