Heat on Barclay to stand down

At 5.50pm stand-up, National's youngest MP apologises but doesn't resign. PLUS: Reader poll progress result: Should he stay or should he go?

TUESDAY: Embattled Clutha Southland MP Todd Barclay has apologised for giving “misleading answers” to media but has stopped short of resigning.

Mr Barclay called a press conference tonight – giving media 10 minutes’ notice – and read from a statement before disappearing before reporters could ask any questions.

His statement came as NBR reader sentiment turned against National's youngest MP.

In  a Business Pulse poll, which has been open since midday, 82% of readers say Mr Barclay should go.

The final result will be released tomorrow morning. 

“It’s important that I clarify and correct my comments to the media today,” he said at his 5.50pm press conference.

“I read Mr English’s comments to the police and accept it, the period in question was a very stressful one as I was in the midst of a difficult employment dispute.”

Earlier this afternoon Prime Minister Bill English told reporters, on the way to Parliament, that Mr Barclay told him he had secretly recorded a staff member. 

This is at odds with both Mr Barclay's previous denials of making such a recording and with Mr English's earlier comments today that he could not recall who told him there was a recording. 

“Given Mr English was my predecessor for Clutha Southland, I no doubt spoke to him as the dispute escalated.”

“Like any breakdown in a relationship I accepted there was fault on both sides – looking back I could have handled the situation differently and I regret that.

“I should not have been as specific in my comments to the media today about the allegations.”

He was unable to comment further for “legal reasons” but says the legal dispute has been resolved and is the subject of a confidentiality agreement.

“As I have said in the past, this has been a steep learning curve for me and I still have a lot to learn.”

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