Nats scurry after MP falls on sword

In the headlights: Todd Barclay takes questions on Tuesday PICTURE: NEWSHUB

National Party officials are checking the rules to see who will replace fallen local MP Todd Barclay.

Barclay announced yesterday he wouldn’t stand as the Clutha-Southland candidate in the upcoming general election amid claims he recorded former staffer Glenys Dickson’s conversations.

Arrowtown’s Jim Ryan, a past chairman of the party’s Invercargill electorate committee, says the decision will be made in the next few days.

“Party officials are checking the rules to see if [Queenstown’s] Simon Flood automatically gets a nod or if a selection process is again required.”

Flood – who couldn’t be reached for comment yesterday – failed to unseat 27-year-old Barclay in a selection vote last December.

Ryan admits it’s been a testing time for local members but he wouldn’t be drawn on the saga.

Mountain Scene columnist Mark Wilson, who went up for selection against Barclay in 2014, was also keeping schtum.

Queenstown party member Lindsay McClean gives Barclay kudos. He says in a statement: “I applaud Todd for acting decisively and doing what was in the best interests of the National Party and not himself and look forward to working to get a Queenstown-based candidate selected.”

At a press conference in Wellington yesterday, Prime Minister Bill English confirmed Barclay wasn’t pushed.

He made the right decision, the PM says.

“My main regret here is that people I know so well fell out so badly.”

The taping claims sparked a 10-month police investigation.

Barclay initially denied recording Dickson. He also told media he was cooperating with police. On Tuesday, the PM confirmed Barclay told him he left a dictaphone running in his electorate office – information English passed to police.

After taking legal advice, Barclay didn’t agree to a police interview.

Police are assessing new information. Barclay didn’t respond to Mountain Scene interview request.

But in a media release he desc-ribes his election as the “proudest moment of my life”.