There is nothing more distressing for politicians than for their families to be dragged into scuttlebutt - but unfortunately it's been done all too often.

Jacinda Ardern's partner Clarke Gayford was a ripe target for trolls. He was in the social pages long before he'd ever hooked up with Ardern, he was a man about town.

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The false rumours surrounding Gayford were widespread and persistent over a number of months. They were being talked about the length and breadth of the country - and had reached a frenzy when Ardern returned last week from rubbing shoulders with royalty at Buckingham Palace with Gayford at her side.


I sent Ardern a text last Thursday outlining what was being said (as if she needed to be told) and suggested she or her partner should address them and offered her a media platform to do it. The only reply came from her chief press secretary, insisting that the rumours were false and saying she wouldn't be commenting on them. He appeared convinced they'd go away.

That was a mistake, as was Ardern's refusal to confront the false rumours head on, as unpalatable as that may be, to identify them for what they are, which would have put paid to them for once and for all. That may yet happen because the way it stands at the moment, the rumour mill will continue to churn.

The second mistake was for our top cop Mike Bush to become involved, approving today's statement denying Gayford had been the subject of a police inquiry and saying he'd never been charged in relation to any matter.

That simply stokes the rumour mill and opens up the suggestion that the police have become politicised. It's unprecedented for the cops to become involved in what are unsubstantiated rumours.

The question's already been asked: Who requested the Police Commissioner's involvement?

The poacher turned gamekeeper Linda Clark, former journalist now lawyer, has put media "on notice" that any substance of the allegations regarding Gayford, which he denies and are untrue, "will be actionable".

Again that'll do nothing but keep the rumour-mongers active. Which is a pity.