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Delilah deja vu

Betsan Powys | 19:02 UK time, Thursday, 2 April 2009

What goes around, comes around.

A few months ago Nick Bourne was forced to apologise after inferring that he'd not signed off a dossier that attacked the First Minister personally. The dossier itself turned out not to be a very good idea but denying he'd known about it was Mr Bourne's real mistake.

A few days ago Rhodri Morgan didn't just infer that he had no prior knowledge of the Aneurin Glyndwr website. In an answer to a question put by my colleague Vaughan Roderick at the lobby briefing on Tuesday, he said bluntly, unequivocally and rather angrily that he'd known nothing about the website that launched the Delilah video ... the one that attacks, amongst others, Nick Bourne.

Here's what he said in full:

"Let this be the only further question on the website. Look, let's be clear. There was no advance authorisation or awareness on my part or the Secretary of State's part or Labour Party Wales' part of the plans to develop this website. None whatsoever. So the website was developed by a team of Labour supporters as a way of getting into new media engagement ... a lot of excitement after the Obama election victory and everyone says "Oh isn't it brilliant the way they've done the new media engagement, the way they've got all these websites springing up from everywhere" and you know they've had a go at doing it. Now, you know, we were not aware they were doing it, didn't approve the contents, weren't aware of the contents, style or anything whatsoever. So you know that's all I can say".

Vaughan Roderick: "But you gave them the quote. You gave them the quote".

Rhodri Morgan: "Pardon?"

Vaughan Roderick: "You gave them a quote. They quote you on the website".

Rhodri Morgan: "Yeah, but its very naughty of the BBC to imply that quote could be construed by anybody as implying approval or endorsement of the content or the style of the website. Since I haven't seen it or read it or had any foreknowledge of it, it is very very naughty to imply that the content or style of it has in some way been endorsed by me. Now it hasn't nor by the Secretary of State nor by the Labour Party Wales. Now that's it. This is not about the website this morning. I've said what I've got to say and I've criticised the media for implying I'm associated with this content. I am not associated with this this content and that's it as far as I'm concerned. OK. Least said soonest mended. That's the only question on the website. I'm not going to say any more about it. This is not about the website. This a government press conference not a party press conference, ok?"

No-one else did ask about the website. But it wasn't ok and it was less ok when Peter Hain wasn't the only one to suggest that the First Minister had indeed known about it.

What we now understand - and Mr Morgan would not dispute - is that he did know about it, before it was launched. It seems he had a brief and confidential conversation about it, though it was sold unseen. It didn't turn out to be the website highlighting Labour's achievements that he'd perhaps expected and hoped to see.

Is it possible that he got mixed up between the website and the video? That he thought at the time he was being straight with the lobby?

It might well be but from what we now know, it's seems pretty clear that he wasn't.


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