COVID-19: Ex-Labour MP Darien Fenton slammed for tweet about pregnant Kiwi reporter denied MIQ spot

Former Labour MP Darien Fenton has been slammed for a tweet about a pregnant Kiwi journalist who was denied a MIQ spot. 

Charlotte Bellis, who had been reporting on Afghanistan for Al Jazeera, discovered she was pregnant in September while in Qatar. 

She moved to her partner's home country, Belgium, as she couldn't get home to New Zealand and it's illegal to be pregnant and unmarried in Qatar.

After repeatedly failing to get into MIQ through the lottery, Bellis writes in the NZ Herald, she had nowhere else she could legally go except Afghanistan.

Fenton, who was a member of the Labour Party from 2005 to 2014, has questioned the legitimacy of Bellis' story. 

"There is something deeply questionable about this story. I don't accept Afghanistan is the only place she could go," Fenton tweeted. "NZ Citizens can enter many countries for three months, not just Europe. And I see there have been responses from MOH and MIQ."

Many Twitter users quickly leapt to the defence of Bellis, with some saying Fenton's tweet is "screwed up" and "vile".

In response to Fenton's tweet, one person wrote: "Listen to yourself. NZ citizens should NOT have to search every country in the world to see who will take them. NEW ZEALAND should be taking us", while another person said, "Vile- be kind. Isn't that's what asked of us".

Bellis' story has again raised questions about the Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) system, with people calling for it to be scrapped. 

In response to Fenton's tweet, one person said: "The fact that anyone should have to hop around random countries because they can't get back to their own is a disgrace".

Another person said, "It's time to dismantle the MIQ and let NZ citizens return for their families, for their healthcare, and for whatever other personal reasons they may have".

People questioned why Bellis couldn't give birth in Belgium - her partner's home country.

Since she's not married and not a resident, New Zealanders can only spend three of every six months in the Schengen zone.

Fenton posted a follow-up tweet on Sunday, summing up all the responses she got. 

"Well that was an exciting day on Twitter yesterday. A whole lot more new bogus accounts, piles of offensive insults, one death threat."

Newshub has contacted Fenton for comment.

The Head of MIQ, Chris Bunny, responded to Bellis' story in the NZ Herald outlining why she was denied an emergency allocation MIQ voucher. 

"In the case of Charlotte Bellis, she applied for an emergency allocation MIQ voucher on Monday 24 January. The date she requested (27 February) was not within the 14-day window required for an emergency allocation (the travel must be time-critical)," Bunny said. 

"It is not uncommon for people who have been declined an emergency allocation to reach out to a Member of Parliament. There are a lot of people in really difficult situations around the world. When anyone brings individual cases to our attention, we look into the case and the process that was followed.

"This is standard practice. There is also a process in place for people to seek reviews of their own applications."  

Bellis' lawyer Tudor Clee has challenged Bunny's ruling that the date Bellis requested had to be within the 14-day window required for an emergency allocation.
Tudor said the MIQ guidelines state you can apply outside of the 14 days if there are limited flights.
"In special circumstances, for example when there is only one flight each month leaving from the applicant's location, applications may be considered outside of the 14-day window," the MIQ guidelines state.