The homeless man in the hotel story

Last week National MP Michael Woodhouse claimed that a homeless man had tagged on to a line of people checking in to  Covid isolation facility (hotel) and got two weeks of food and lodging. Woodhouse cited ‘a very reliable source’ but provided no evidence.

Because isolation was a shambles this was seen as plausible. People on Twitter said it was a good thing that a homeless man was housed and ‘he’ was congratulated (even though the Government had been providing accommodation for homeless people through and since the lockdown).

The story has also been backed up by journalist Barry Soper who has also claimed to have ‘a very reliable source’. So it seems likely someone has told the story separately to an MP and a journalist.

Another undisputed story last week added a bit more weight to the possibility. The Ministry of Health reported that a man arriving at Auckland airport got in the wrong queue and successfully checked inn to the wrong hotel. This seems to have only been discovered when the man tested positive for Covid several days later.

So the story seems feasible, despite media citing some people in isolation saying it would have been difficult to pull off, saying they were cordoned off (all the time?) and had to provide a credit card when checking in.

This story had faded away, until Ashley Bloomfield raised it at a media conference on Tuesday, saying that the Ministry had investigated, including scrutinising surveillance footage (I”m not sure how that would discover someone unless they were obviously dressed like a homeless man). Bloomfield said it may be just an urban myth, and this was given a bit of media attention.

Again the story may have faded away, but for some reason yesterday a letter from Minister of Whatever Megan Woods to Woodhouse demanding details and evidence was leaked – I doubt Woodhouse would have gone public with it.

This created a bit of a media and social media diversion. Woodhouse and National leader Todd Muller said they stood by the story, but thee media should understand Woodhouse can’t reveal a confidential source.

This was raised at The Standard yesterday, perhaps coincidentally – National is relentlessly negative about the country’s Covid response – but The Standard has been relentlessly negative about National while ignoring the major Government and Ministry of Health issues over the last few weeks. They have been in diversion overdrive.

It is very unlikely both Woodhouse and Soper would dream up the same story, so it must have been provided to them. By whom and why?

I guess it’s questionable whether Woodhouse should have gone public with the claim without producing evidence. However opposition MPs don’t have the ability to investigate things like this so it’s common for them to put this responsibility on the Government, who then decide whether to ignore it or act on it.

In the whole scheme of things this is a bit of a sideshow. Later yesterday David Clark dragged the focus back to the wider shambles as well as the shambles of his political career, but that’s another story.

RNZ: Story of homeless man sneaking into 5-star isolation hotel remains a mystery



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  1. NOEL

     /  25th June 2020

    There is a precedence for unsubstantiated claims in Parliament.
    There was the camper van turned around at a roadblock by a gang member that morphed into two women.

    • Gezza

       /  25th June 2020

      Winston Peters probably holds the record for unsubstantiated claims in Parliament – at least in my voting lifetime.

      At the moment I doubt that the story is true. Remains to be seen whether Woodhouse will let government MPs mock him in Parliament a few more times & then suddenly produce some concrete evidence in a Gotcha ambush.

      As to his repeated stance that he’s surprised the government has spent so much time & effort trying to find the man thru interviews & viewing CCTV footage – disingenuous as you can get. If a homeless man got into the hotel as he claims, then left, he needs to be tracked down & tested if he’s back out in the community somewhere.

      Woodhouse is being shithouse. He knows that.

  2. oldlaker

     /  25th June 2020

    Tricky politics by Woods. She acknowledged considerable resources had been poured into checking CCTV footage and records at a time when the govt can’t say how many people have been released into the community. She’s using valuable resources for a political hit.

    • Gezza

       /  25th June 2020

      He needs to be identified & tested if he wasn’t in case he picked up Covid-19 while among others in quarantine & is now loose in the community. Except it seems highly likely after the checking necessarily done that he never existed & that Woodhouse is responsible for deliberately wasting govt time & resources for purely political reasons.


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