A New Zealand media company has been forced to make a payout to Jacinda Ardern’s partner Clarke Gayford after broadcasting unfounded rumours of his criminality.
On Friday, Mr Gayford issued a statement confirming NZME will make a confidential payout following a broadcast from its youth broadcaster KICK in March.
“The statements were based on rumours about Mr Gayford that are baseless lies,” Mr Gayford said.
“NZME Radio has apologised to Mr Gayford for these publications and the hurt and distress they have caused and accepts that he has never been the subject of criminal charges and is not now the subject of criminal charges in any court in New Zealand.”
The KICK broadcast, also available as a podcast, has been taken down though the tagline for the episode can still be seen.
“New ep of FRESH MUSIC FRIDAY is out now! Joel tables another conspiracy theory and Kate confesses her love for Enrique Iglesias of all people,” it reads.
It is not clear precisely what was broadcast about Mr Gayford, but both he and Ms Ardern have been increasingly targeted by conspiracy theorists following lengthy COVID-19 lockdowns.
Anti-vaccine movements are awash with unsubstantiated rumours about Mr Gayford’s supposed lawbreaking or infidelity.
In April, a plane flew over Auckland with a banner reading “Where is Clarke?”, a reference to an alleged court appearance for Mr Gayford.
Such was the weight of public interest to media, police issued a statement saying he had not been charged or was the subject of any investigation.
Mr Gayford was a well-known figure in New Zealand becoming first bloke, as a popular DJ and radio and television host, including the popular Fish Of The Day program.
He and Ms Ardern had a child in 2018, Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford.
The pair were engaged in 2019, though difficulties in planning events during the pandemic mean they have not yet tied the knot.