Leg room and wiggle room
As I wrote here Rhodri Morgan was adamant yesterday that the Liberal Democrats were guilty of mishandling the story about International Business Wales civil servants and the expenses they'd put on their credit cards.
It had been "repugnant" to allege that civil servants had flown first class. "Civil servants do not use first class travel" said the First Minister. "I don't think I've ever used first class travel. But certainly civil servants can't. I don't think I ever have to be honest. And if I can't I'm sure they can't".
It was, in fact, "an outright lie."
That sort of attack leaves no escape when copies of first class flight tickets turn up, as they have done. Four so far.
In February Geraint Jones, IBW's Head of Americas flew first class from New York to Los Angeles with Virgin America. Their blurb for first class flying goes like this:
"With roomy massage thrones, unlimited entertainment choices and fresh, hot food at your request, you will feel like royalty all flight long".
In November 2008 Christopher Williams, Vice President ICT, flew first class from New York to Los Angeles and then on to San Franciso. He returned, turning left when he got onto the plane once again, from San Francisco to New York three days later.
Is it wrong for civil servants to take first class flights? According to the First Minister, yes it is.
But what is undoubtedly wrong is letting that First Minister paint himself into the tightest of corners by accusing the Liberal Democrats of telling an "outright lie" - when they, apparently, did not. Using the First Minister's own yardstick, it seems he did. He, after all, made no allowances for good intentions.