Jacinda Ardern pours cold water on wedding allegations, saying staffer helping as a friend – New Zealand Herald

Posted: October 17, 2021 at 5:01 pm

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has scotched allegations her wedding may have involved inappropriate use of parliamentary resources. Photo / Doug Sherring

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has denied allegations a staffer may have inappropriately used parliamentary resources to help plan her wedding to fianc Clarke Gayford.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said no parliamentary time or resources were used to plan the wedding, and the staffer was working in her capacity as a long-standing friend.

The Herald on Sunday reported that Ardern's electorate secretary Barbara Ward had been involved in wedding plans, visiting a wedding venue in Gisborne in May and July.

The news was revealed in a story that reported Ardern had cancelled her original choice of wedding venue - the Bushmere Arms, on the outskirts of Gisborne - and had not paid a $5000 cancellation fee.

The owner of the venue, Robin Pierson, said Ardern and Gayford booked the venue two years ago but talks broke down after a stoush over catering by a Kiwi celebrity chef, Peter Gordon.

Low-tax lobby group, the Taxpayer's Union released a statement on Sunday saying that "the Prime Minister is breaking the law in using her taxpayer-funded electorate secretary as a wedding planner".

Union spokesman Jordan Williams said, "no one would object to officials ensuring appropriate security at the Prime Minister's wedding but having an official involved in the venue and catering is totally unjustified."

Williams said the Union would be writing to the Speaker, Trevor Mallard and the Auditor-General to ask them to investigate.

However, a spokesman for the Prime Minister denied there was any wrongdoing, saying Ward, whose partner is Cabinet minister David Parker, was assisting Ardern and Gayford in her capacity as a friend.

"Barbara Ward is a close friend of the Prime Minister and Clarke Gayford.

"She is helping with their wedding in a personal capacity. Her costs are being met privately and the time involved is either outside of work hours or annual leave," the spokesman said.

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Jacinda Ardern pours cold water on wedding allegations, saying staffer helping as a friend - New Zealand Herald

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