I’m up for Welly: elusive MP

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Back on the beat: Todd Barclay's picture posted on social media yesterday

New Zealand’s most chased politician is walking into the lion’s den.

Disgraced Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay tells Mountain Scene he’s heading back to Parliament.

“Contrary to recent speculation, I will be returning to Wellington,” he confirms by email.

He’ll head to the capital when Parliament starts sitting again this coming Tuesday.

Barclay announced on June 21 he won’t stand in the upcoming election, after a secret taping scandal involving a former staffer made national news, embarrassing Prime Minister Bill English.

Before the blow-up, the tyro MP’s PR strategy had been to boast about the kilometres he’s travelled in the electorate, how many towns he’s visited and the number of meetings and events he’s attended.

But since June 21 he’s gone to ground, despite being on a $3000-a-week public salary.

Media have been hunting him – a situation which spiralled out of control last week over ridiculous allegations a Fairfax reporter and cameraman were aggressive and intimidating.

So what’s he been up to?

Scene asked for a phone interview but Barclay responded by email.

He says: “While I obviously took a bit of time for myself, following the decision to retire at the election, I have been back to work.”

Barclay posted a picture of himself in his Queenstown electorate office on Tuesday, sparking a social media storm.

He posted another picture of himself yesterday on Queenstown’s Kawarau Road.

His re-emergence came the same day nominations closed for his National Party replacement.

Barclay says: “As the outgoing MP, I won’t be attending public events or publicising my movements in the way I previously would as there will be a new candidate soon and that will be their role.

“I put my life and everything I had into this role, but we are now going through a transition of selecting a new candidate, who I hope will give just as much of themselves to the role as what I did.”

There are four parliamentary sitting weeks left before September’s election.

On Tuesday, the Independent Police Conduct Authority announced it is not going to pursue a complaint over the initial 10-month-long police inquiry into allegations against Barclay.

Barclay refused to cooperate with the initial investigation and no charges were laid.

Police re-opened their investigation last month.

david@scene.co.nz