Much ado about nothing?

As Valleys Mam notes, there seems to be an enormous amount of fuss generated about the expenses of International Business Wales in the press today.

Far be it for me of all people to defend the Welsh civil service (that would be a first!) but there seem to be some incongruities in the claims that have been released under the Freedom of Information Act.

In the Western Mail, Kirsty Williams is quoted as saying

"Every taxpayer in Wales deserves an explanation from the Labour-Plaid Government. While we’re in the middle of a recession, it’s disgusting to know that public officials are flying first class, staying in the most expensive hotels, eating in the best restaurants – all at the swipe of the Welsh credit card."

For example, I haven't a clue whether there is actually any evidence for "flying first class" but as far as I am aware, it is civil service policy that staff take business class flights for all long haul flights to destinations such as the Far East and the USA.

In addition, Virgin Atlantic don't actually have first class, only business class, and that the £36,000 spent with the airline would account for around 12 flights between the UK and the USA (we are not talking Ryan Air here!). Similarly, £24,000 with Cathays Pacific would amount to around six business class flights from the UK to the Far East.

As I say, some strange conclusions but nevertheless a very good headline for the Lib-Dems.

p.s. Having visited the place, I would also doubt if "Margarita Murphy's" - one of the restaurants frequented by IBW staff according to the WM - can be classified as a "high-end NewYork eatery" given that the most expensive meal is a steak at a cost of $17 (which is roughly a third of the price that most AMs could claim for daily meals before Sir Roger Jones' review stopped this practice).

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