What the shit is going on with those Clarke Gayford rumours?

The Herald has reported that untrue things are being said about Jacinda Ardern’s partner. Here’s what we know so far.

Everyone in media and political circles, Steve Braunias notwithstanding, has been gasbagging like mad over the last month about rumours related to Clarke Gayford, the partner of the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern. Most of these conversations have resolved in the consensus that they’re substantially bullshit, with the honourable exception of high level political commentary from pseudonymous Twitter accounts with two followers.

Given the absence of evidence, no one has reported on this scuttlebutt. Until this morning, when David Fisher and the Herald, putting on their best morally upstanding face, broke the seal, in a piece headlined, “False Clarke Gayford rumours: Police and PM Jacinda Ardern respond to widely circulated fake slurs”.

The Queen confronts Jacinda Ardern over stuff she read on the internet about fish. Photo: DOMINIC LIPINSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

The Spinoff, along with everyone else in the media, has been contacted this morning by the prime minister’s spokesperson, and by lawyers acting for Gayford, to stress that the Herald has not included in its report the false and defamatory claims. We’re obviously not going to do that either, although we will simply say this: has anyone ever seen Gayford actually kill a fish?

Here’s what we know so far:

  • The Herald frames the story as a “dirty politics” style smear, and includes comments from and a photograph of Nicky Hager, who wrote the book about dirty politics, which carries the title Dirty Politics.
  • Legendary Herald reporter David “Le Fish” Fisher includes these words in his report: “unprecedented assault”, “fake slurs”, “baseless rumour”, “false innuendo”, “untrue allegations and accusations”, “false rumours”, “untrue rumours”, “troll pack”, ”campaign of innuendo” and “smear”.
  • The commissioner of Police has taken the unusual step of issuing a media statement saying it’s all bullshit. Or more specifically, per Mike Bush: “While in general we do not respond to enquiries which seek to confirm if individuals are under police investigation, on this occasion we can say that Mr Gayford is not and has not been the subject of any police inquiry, nor has he been charged in relation to any matter.”
  • Bush makes no mention of whether he has or has not actually seen Gayford kill a fish.
  • Prime minister Jacinda Ardern told the Herald this: “I won’t comment on dirty politics. It’s just not what I’m here for.”
  • The Herald story notes that an unnamed person on social media “did not respond to a request for comment”. Are you a person on social media?
  • Deborah Hill Cone.
  • Linda Clark, who used to be great on the television news but is now a lawyer, not that there’s anything wrong with that, and is acting for Gayford, sent an email to the Spinoff and the rest, saying this: “The allegations (which the NZ Herald did not publish) are untrue and defamatory. The story included a statement from the NZ Police that Mr Gayford is not and has not been the subject of any police inquiry… We draw your attention to this for the purpose of putting you on notice that any publication of the substance of the allegations regarding Mr Gayford will result in proceedings being filed immediately.”
  • Gayford was at the premiere last night of the funny New Zealand film The Breaker Upperers. In an exclusive interview with the Spinoff following the screening he said the rumours had been “stressful”, but had nothing to say about fish murdering.
  • Leading New Zealand pop starlet Neil Finn is now a member of Fleetwood Mac, a band which produced the very good album Rumours, the title track of which opens: “I don’t fuck with no rumours / Girl, I know you’re the truth / So fuck whatever it is you heard / ‘Cause I ain’t me without you / So tell me the lies they told you first / ‘Cause that shit ain’t nothing new / ‘Cause I don’t fuck with no rumours / I don’t fuck with no rumours / No, no, no”.
  • Spinoff partnerships editor Simon Day once started a rumour about Chris Martin, claiming baselessly that the former cricketer was an “award-winning freestyle rapper.”
  • What if Clarke Gayford actually buys his fish from that posh fishmongers at Wynyard Quarter and goes out on his boat and holds them up like trophies?

More to follow, or not.


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