Ross sectioned to mental health facility

Jami-Lee Ross
Jami-Lee Ross
Jami-Lee Ross has been sectioned to an Auckland mental health facility, following a tumultuous week in which he traded insults and allegations with the National Party and came clean to his wife about extra-marital affairs.

Mr Ross was taken in by police yesterday  afternoon, and a source close to Mr  Ross told the Herald that Mr Ross was "not in good shape" and "had been sectioned  ...  People who go willingly aren’t sectioned".

Under the Mental Health Act, a person can be sectioned to a safe place against their will and given treatment if their safety is considered at risk.

It follows a week of unprecedented political turbulence in which Mr Ross, a former member of the National caucus’ senior team, quit the National Party, was expelled from caucus, traded insults and accusations with Simon Bridges and Paula Bennett, and admitted to extra-marital affairs that have rocked his marriage to Lucy Schwaner, with whom he has two children.It is understood the National Party is continuing to offer Mr Ross support, though it is unclear it if was involved in Mr Ross’ admission to the facility.

"Over the past several weeks the National Party has taken seriously the mental health concerns raised by Mr Ross and the medical professionals he has been involved with," a spokesman for the party said.

But the source told the Herald  the National Party was warned about pushing Mr Ross too far last Monday, when Mr Bridges and Ms Bennett met Mr Ross about the PwC inquiry into Mr Bridges’ leaked travel expenses.

Concerns were raised about Mr Ross’ mental health three weeks ago, when Mr Ross took leave from Parliament for "personal health issues" and later said he had a mental breakdown over being accused of inappropriate behaviour towards women.

Mr Ross’ doctors were in contact with Mr Bridges and Ms Bennett and "were told if any more pressure or stress was headed his way, there was a real likelihood of this incident [being sectioned] occurring", the source said.

"Two weeks later, when they confronted him about the report of the leak, the medical advice was reiterated. And they said they were going to release the information in half an hour."

The National Party has been approached to further comment.In the weeks following Mr Ross’ leave  it is understood  Mr Ross’ doctors told the National leadership team Mr Ross was doing better and could return to work.

Last week, as Mr Ross fronted media, he repeatedly said  he was healthy, even after six women spoke to Newsroom about what they called bullying and intimidating behaviour by Mr Ross.

Mr Ross disagreed with the way the women portrayed him in the media, but admitted to extra-marital affairs and said he had apologised to his wife.

Asked in his last media interview on Friday about mental health issues, Mr Ross said: "I’m OK right now."

Mr Ross’ leave from Parliament at the start of the month followed a text message concerned about the mental health of the person who leaked Mr Bridges’ travel expenses. It led to speculation that Mr Ross was the leaker, which he denies, though he admitted to leaking details of the text message to media.

An inquiry by PwC, ordered by Mr Bridges,  found  it was likely Mr Ross was the leaker, but was inconclusive. 

- Derek Cheng


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