Michael Woodhouse insists 'homeless man' tale wasn't 'made up', but won't say it's true, in fiery John Campbell clash

Source: 1News

National MP Michael Woodhouse maintains the tale of a homeless person sneaking into a Covid-19 managed isolation facility isn't "made up", but he won't go so far as to claim it's "true".

After an extensive investigation by the Government, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield last week said the claim appeared to be an "urban myth" .

Housing Minister Megan Woods, in charge of the managed isolation and quarantine facilities, said they trawled CCTV footage and looked over records, and couldn't find any evidence it had happened.

She called on Mr Woodhouse to share his evidence that it happened , but he didn't respond.

In a fiery interview with TVNZ 1 Breakfast host John Campbell this morning, Mr Woodhouse continued to back the claim.

"You're suggesting that I made things up but I didn't," he said this morning.

He says the fact the Government investigated the claim - something he called for them to do - "suggests very strongly that it could have [happened]".

"The person who told me didn't make that up either. I would like to be able to say that it's true."

Campbell repeatedly pressed Mr Woodhouse, asking, "is it true?" multiple times. Mr Woodhouse didn't answer directly.

"I have never said that I can prove it," he said instead, reiterating that it "came from a reliable source".

Mr Woodhouse, the health spokesperson for National, pointed back to claims he had made about the first two new active Covid-19 cases in New Zealand.

After arriving from the UK, the sisters were granted compassionate leave to drive to Wellington to be with their surviving parent as they grieved.

"My job is to highlight the inconsistencies in the process and hold the Government to account," Mr Woodhouse says.

"Now remember when the Auckland sisters travelled from Auckland to Wellington, I got told that was not true. And 24 hours later, everybody realised that it was."

Mr Woodhouse's initial claims at the time were that the women didn't travel directly to Wellington, but stopped for a "kiss and a cuddle" on the way.

The Ministry of Health later confirmed they had detoured after getting lost , but denied the close contact, instead describing it as a "fleeting" moment.

Today Campbell accused Mr Woodhouse of "playing politics", asking whether it "dull[ed] the impact" of what he was saying.

Whether or not the tale of the homeless man is true, doesn't make the criticism less valid, Mr Woodhouse says.

"The fact that I could not [verify it], and was very careful to say that I could not do that, with the story of the homeless guy does not undermine this was a ham-fisted process right from the get go."

A report into the managed isolation and quarantine facilities, released yesterday, found the system is under "extreme stress" and needs more resources to handle the load.

"Increased traveller numbers continue to challenge the provision of accommodation and staff are only able to respond to daily challenges," the report said in its conclusion.

Dr Woods says work is already underway to address the challenges raised in the report.