Mike King calls on Ministry of Health deputy CEO to resign for 'misleading the public' on Gumboot Friday funding

Mental health advocate Mike King says Ministry of Health deputy CEO Robyn Shearer should resign for "deliberately misleading the public" on his charity's funding application - but she rejects the claim.

Earlier this month, Shearer said the ministry was unable to fund Gumboot Friday, a counselling service for at-risk youth, because the application was sent "outside the planned procurement processes".

But King last week rubbished the suggestion Gumboot Friday missed the deadline as a "blatant lie", because the charity never even filed an application.

In a press release on Thursday, he said the closest Gumboot Friday representatives came to a funding application was an online meeting to discuss funding options and processes in June.

"We have never put an application forward. This is a complete fabrication to make me and my organisation look incompetent," said King.

"Robyn Shearer has never seen my signature on an application because there isn't one, it's a made-up story and [an Official Information Act request] will prove that.

"I would love to know what the Minister of Health thinks about his officials lying to the New Zealand public and what he will do about it."

He says Shearer should resign for "deliberately misleading the New Zealand public".

But Shearer says neither she nor the Ministry of Health has ever suggested a funding deadline had been missed.

"We have had discussions with Mr King and his representatives about funding opportunities," she told Newshub.

"These discussions were held outside of planned procurement processes and Mr King is correct in saying that he, or his organisations, had not previously submitted a formal application for funding."

However, she admitted the ministry "could have been clearer" that the discussions about funding were just that, rather than a formal application for funding.

Shearer didn't comment on King's call for her resignation.

"We run Government-prescribed procurement processes. These are required to be fair, open, transparent and equitable for any organisation applying for funds," she said.

"To be able to fund any organisation or service, we need to have requests for funding come through a process that is designed to be transparent and fair."

Earlier in July, King announced a second Gumboot Friday will be held in 2021 after the "disappointment" of raising $943,000 at the last appeal in June.

The former comedian announced he planned to host a second event on November 5 to raise more money, as the mental health service was on track to churn through the total raised in June's appeal in just three months.

King has been highly critical of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the Ministry of Health in recent weeks - even returning the NZ Order of Merit medal he was awarded in 2019 for services to mental health awareness and suicide prevention, citing a lack of progress in these areas.