Police did not ask Clarke Gayford's permission to quash rumour

Police have admitted to Newshub they did not ask Clarke Gayford's permission before releasing a statement that quashed rumours swirling about him.

The decision to release a statement was highly unusual.

When asked why they decided to front this issue when they often will not comment on individual cases, police cited "public interest". 

"The decision was made based on public interest considerations," police said.

When asked whether Mr Gayford's permission was sought, police said it was not.

Former Prime Minister Sir John Key has also weighed in, saying he sympathises with Ms Ardern and rumours were one downside of being in the public eye. 

"I can't really recall any particular rumours, but when you're in the public eye you always hear those kinds of things," Sir John told Newshub.

"It's very hurtful for the person involved because half the time they can't extinguish [rumours] easily.

"It being a high-profile position, it has a lot of upsides, but it has downsides as well.

"Obviously, we feel some sympathy for the pressure that people are under in that role."

Earlier on Wednesday, the Prime Minister said she would "smile through" the smear attempt.

"All I know is it's not why I'm here, it does not have anything to do with the job I need to do, and I'm going to smile through it as well," Ms Ardern said.

Newshub will not say what rumours are because they are false. Nor could Newshub legally repeat them, as Mr Gayford's lawyer warned media today the allegations are untrue and defamatory.

"This letter puts you on notice that any publication of the substance of the allegations regarding Mr Gayford (which he denies and which are untrue) will be actionable," the letter said.