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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Journalists and their tenuous relationship with facts

Writing in his Spin Doctor column in this morning's Wales on Sunday, Matt Withers returns to the issue of the 'Lib Dem two' with what he believes is a decisive parting shot.

He says that Aled Roberts used as his defence the fact that he conducts his business in Welsh, and that hapless Electoral Commission officials gave him the incorrect information on eligibility rules in that language. He then goes on to allege that 'a few eyebrows were raised when both of Mr Roberts’ speeches, and his statement of opinion were in, er, English.'

In actual fact the defence was that Aled Roberts chose to access the documents in Welsh because that is his first language, but that crucially he reasonably should have been able to expect the information available to him to be identical in both languages. That is what the law says and after all, if he had been a monoglot English speaker and it was the English which was wrong, then it would also not have been reasonable to suggest that he rely on the Welsh.

However, as I sat through all of Aled Roberts' contributions to Plenary last week, something of what Matt Withers wrote did not ring true. Did Aled really deliver both of his speeches in English?

According to the Record of Proceedings Aled Roberts in fact asked his question to the First Minister on Tuesday in Welsh, he asked two questions of the Education Minister on Wednesday in English and spoke in Welsh in the statement on an Estyn report and in Welsh in the debate on Public Sector Employment.

Still, never let the facts get in the way of a good story.
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