A top principal who spent more than three years trying to clear his name has finally had domestic-violence charges against him dismissed.
Peter Lawrence Clague denied a charge of male assaults female after a private prosecution was brought by his former partner Jeanne Denham.
The 49-year-old former Kristin School principal moved to the UK last August after landing the job of headmaster at 500-year-old Bromsgrove School in Worcestershire.
Clague had to fly home this week to stand trial in Auckland District Court but today Judge David McNaughton dismissed the charge, ruling there was not enough evidence for the jury to reasonably find him guilty.
His lawyer Michael Lloyd said it was a "deserved result".
"He's been persecuted for three years," he said.
Allegations of abuse arose in 2012, not long after the pair had broken up, but after investigating, the police chose not to charge Clague.
Denham hired PR consultant Carrick Graham to put out press releases about the case, which Mr Lloyd said was part of an orchestrated campaign to destroy his client.
Eventually she brought her former partner before the court in the form of a private prosecution.
The alleged incident took place in 2010 at the newlywed couple's Greenhithe home.
In her opening address, prosecutor Marie Dyhrberg QC said that during an argument Clague "grabbed [Ms Denham] by the shoulders, shook her and said, 'shut the f*** up"'.
"It caused her to fall to the ground and she landed on her lower back causing an injury to her tailbone for which she sought medical attention," she said.
But Clague's lawyer Michael Lloyd disputed that version of events and said what happened was "acceptable conduct in the context of an intimate relationship".
The only reason his client had touched the complainant was to calm her, he submitted.
"His defence has always been that it was in the context of Ms Denham absolutely going off her rocker, being loud, hurling expletives of abuse within earshot of the neighbours and the child," he said.
Mr Lloyd said Clague's actions had been done "in a pleading way" and a slip on the polished floor had caused him to overbalance and push Ms Denham backwards on to the step.
"She has actually developed over the years this persona of a victim of domestic violence that's completely fictional," Mr Lloyd said.
Judge McNaughton will give a full decision on Monday.