Wales politics

Microphone picks up presiding officer while Tory speaks

The Welsh assembly's presiding officer has been caught on microphone apparently making an aside about an assembly member in the chamber.

Rosemary Butler can be heard muttering as Tory AM Mark Isherwood starts speaking during an economy debate.

She was heard to say "Oh here we go now" as he started criticising Labour's record.

Her spokesman said she was "horrified at the suggestion" her comments were directed at an AM.

AMs were discussing the Welsh economy in the assembly's Senedd chamber on Wednesday afternoon when Ms Butler, the Labour AM for Newport West, made her comment.

'Error'

Responding later, north Wales AM Mr Isherwood said: "The presiding officer's job is to be impartial and this surprising error of judgement is clearly not what any assembly member would expect.

"The Senedd chamber should be a place of open debate between political parties and unbiased stewardship."

The presiding officer's role is equivalent to the Speaker in the House of Commons. She also chairs the Assembly Commission - the all-party body that handles day-to-day business in the assembly.

A commission spokesman said Ms Butler did not recall saying the comment.

In a statement, he said: "The presiding officer is horrified at the suggestion that comments overheard today in the chamber could have been directed at an assembly member.

"She holds all 60 members in the highest regard and as presiding officer, her main function is to ensure that all members have a fair opportunity to take part in plenary proceedings."

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