Television New Zealand is threatening legal action against a former colleague of top newsreader Simon Dallow following a series of scandalous emails.
The man at the centre of the controversy is fashion commentator Robert Haddock, who has been accused of improperly using other people's email accounts in an attempt to fuel speculation about his role in Dallow's private life.
Haddock - a former drag queen who used to perform under the stage name "Mary Lambie" - has denied he is behind the emails, but others believe he has an "obsession" with Dallow and TV presenters in general.
TVNZ spokesman Peter Parussini told the Herald on Sunday it was aware of the emails and would be taking legal action if the person responsible continued making defamatory remarks about its top newsreader.
In reference to Haddock, Parussini said: "This person clearly has a sad life. He [Dallow] thinks this person is a sad individual as well."
The Herald on Sunday has been made aware of two emails sent to several individuals and media organisations concerning Dallow. The first was sent on April 16 from the email account of a Papatoetoe couple who share their home with Haddock. They denied any knowledge of the email, and said they had no idea who may have been using their email account.
The second email was sent on Wednesday from the email account of a former Viva radio personality who used to work with Haddock.
The former Viva presenter said she was furious about the email, and had confronted a defiant Haddock about it.
She had been contacted by TVNZ over the matter and had telephoned Dallow to make it clear she had no involvement in the email.
"This sort of thing is not on. How many other emails have gone out with my name on it?
"When you look at it in black and white it suggests I sent those emails. That's why I rang Simon - he's a friend of mine and I'd hate it if he thought I was behind this."
The Radio Network operations manager John Taylor said an investigation by IT staff had found that a Viva email account had been accessed remotely, and while he could not say definitely who the culprit was, he had his suspicions.
"The account should have been closed, but it wasn't because of an oversight. That account was then accessed from someone outside the building. We're pretty sure we know who it was."
Haddock worked briefly last year as a freelance fashion reporter for Viva, appearing regularly on Dallow's nine to noon show.
"He clearly has a fascination with Simon after doing reports on Simon's show," Taylor said.
Haddock was dismissed last year by The Radio Network following Air New Zealand Fashion Week, after racking up an unauthorised bill of $1000 at an Auckland hotel.
Haddock confirmed he had been at a TVNZ function a fortnight ago attended by Dallow, but said he was not the person behind the emails. He had no idea how the first email sent from his home email account had ended up in the hands of media organisations and denied ever logging into the Viva email server.
"I prefer not to talk about it. I have nothing to say," he said.
This is not the first time Haddock's name has been linked to controversy. He was sacked after a short stint as a receptionist with TV show Queer Nation after the alleged unauthorised use of an Eftpos card belonging to one of the show's presenters.