Page last updated at 16:37 GMT, Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Tory AM wants iPod row addressed

Nick Bourne AM and Jonathan Morgan AM
Jonathan Morgan's email adds to the pressure on Nick Bourne (left) to hold a meeting

A Tory assembly member has written to his Welsh party leader saying there needs to be an assessment of the damage caused by coverage of AMs' expenses.

Welsh Conservative leader Nick Bourne has been heavily criticised for claiming an iPod on expenses.

In an email, seen by BBC Wales, Jonathan Morgan says the party needs to look again at its strategy.

He says pressure by Tory AMs for a meeting before Christmas with Mr Bourne has been rejected by the party whip.

But Cardiff North AM Mr Morgan says the damage caused by the expenses story needs to be addressed and has sent a copy of his email to all Tory AMs and their staff.

Mr Bourne was heavily criticised after it emerged in a breakdown of assembly members' allowances that as well as the iPod, he had spent a total of more than 5,000 over the past two years on his bathroom and also bought a 120 trouser press.

It has led to further questions about his leadership only weeks after he had to apologise in a row over an internal document the party issued about First Minister Rhodri Morgan.

In the email, Mr Morgan, who is viewed as a future party leader, said the party needed to examine how it can tighten up procedures as a group to show that it was "serious about spending public money properly".

The group also needed to look at the leader's allowance and what it was supposed to cover, he said.

He added it was also critical the party looked at its strategy in challenging Labour.

Mr Bourne has already said he is confident he has the support of his group.

'Clear backing'

He told the Richard Evans programme on BBC Radio Wales on Monday that the party had put the controversy behind them.

"I am very happy with our media operation. I am very happy with the team of assembly members," he said.

"We have to put all that behind us, we have to move forward."

Mr Bourne, who represents Mid and West Wales, added that he had spoken to all the Conservative assembly members over the weekend and called for "perspective and objectivity" on the issue of AMs' expense claims.

"I am not saying there is not an issue to address, of course there is but there are much more important issues," he said.

When asked if he had regrets over the expense claim, Mr Bourne said he looked forward to a change in the rules.

"We all learn lessons and that is why we are having the expenses looked at across the board.

"I hope when the process is completed, people will be far happier about it."

Meanwhile, one Conservative AM Darren Millar has said he is "agnostic" about the need for a meeting but is clear that its outcome should be a "clear backing for Nick Bourne".

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