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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 October 2006, 17:00 GMT 18:00 UK
Minister 3,000 Scrabble card row
Alun Pugh with a Scrabble box
Alun Pugh said he wanted the picture to promote the language
Christmas cards showing a Welsh Assembly Government minister with a Welsh version of Scrabble cost over 3,000 of public money.

Alun Pugh, the minister for the Welsh language, had the cards printed to be "innovative" in promoting the language.

Plaid Cymru called it a "misuse of public money". More than 3,000 went on legal advice about copyright.

But game-makers Mattel agreed the picture could be used without charging a fee for the rights.

Owen John Thomas, of Plaid Cymru, said: "It seems to me to be a misuse of public money."
The whole thing is an absolute nonsense
Owen John Thomas AM, Plaid Cymru

"If he wants to send Welsh Christmas cards he can do that quite easily. [They are] on sale in the shops.

"He should be paying for this largely out of his own pocket, except of course where he's sending to people who have official posts in certain government organisations and so forth."

"The whole thing is an absolute nonsense."

Mr Thomas said he was not among those who had received one of the cards last year from Mr Pugh, who is the AM for Clwyd West.

On Tuesday, Welsh Conservatives' leader Nick Bourne said Mr Pugh should repay the money from his own pocket, since this was "not just vanity" but a "totally unneccessary waste" of public money.

Meanwhile an assembly government spokeswoman said: "The actual cost of the Christmas card was 3,325, which included printing costs of 180, 88 for photography, and 3,057 in legal fees.

"The legal fees were incurred as a result of advice from solicitors representing the Welsh assembly on copyright and licence issues".

"The minister launched the Scrabble yn Gymraeg (Welsh language Scrabble) at the National Eisteddfod in 2005 and his intention was to promote an innovative and entertaining opportunity to use Welsh in a social context on his Christmas card."

The spokeswoman added that the assembly government wanted to make it clear that earlier reports of Mattel receiving a payment were incorrect.


SEE ALSO
Welsh Scrabble sells out in shops
23 Dec 05 |  North West Wales

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