Clarke Gayford wins confidential payout over NZME Radio comments

Clarke Gayford with a microphone
Clarke Gayford has been paid a confidential sum after NZME Radio comments. Photo credit: Getty Images

Clarke Gayford has been awarded a confidential sum after NZME Radio comments earlier this year.

On March 25 NZME Radio published statements about Gayford during the KICK Fresh Music Friday podcast and on their social pages.

A statement from Gayford on Friday afternoon said the comments were "based on rumours about Mr Gayford that are baseless lies".

The statement also revealed Gayford had received an apology from NZME Radio for their publications and "the hurt and distress they have caused".

It also added NZME Radio had accepted "he has never been the subject of criminal charges and is not now the subject of criminal charges in any court in New Zealand".

Under New Zealand's defamation law, media is prevented from publishing anything which would unjustifiably damage a person's reputation.

'Damaging' is defined as something which could lower the opinion of a person in the minds of right thinking members of society, or something which could make others shun or avoid a person.

'Unjustifiably' means to say something which does not have any truth behind it. Repeating the rumour, even if it is made clear that it is no more than a rumour, would be considered defamatory. Even something that is widely spread on social media can get the media in trouble if they choose to repeat it. 'They said it first' is not a defence.

Gayford has been subjected to a smear campaign for several years, and in March this year took a light-hearted approach to false rumours over his location.

"Yes but have you ever seen Clarke Gayford and me in the same room at the same time? #justaskingquestions," he tweeted.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has also laughed off a conspiracy theory on the whereabouts of her partner.

During the anti-vaccine mandate protest in Wellington, signs were seen asking "Where is Clarke Gayford".

Ardern answered: "When I left home this morning, granted that was - what was it - y'know, about 6:55am, he was folding the washing."

Police have also responded to the rumours, releasing a statement in both 2018 and 2022 saying that while they don't respond to queries asking if certain people are under 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".

In 2018 Politik editor Richard Harman told The AM Show he suspects the political right-wing likely started the rumour, which the National Party has fiercely denied.

"When I've heard these things they've come from people on the fringes of the National Party," Harman said.

"They're probably not even members, but they're certainly supporters. And always there's another element in the rumour."

Gayford said he will not make any further comment.