The Conservatives’ group leader has been cleared of breaching the Senedd’s rules for describing the 20mph limit as a “blanket” policy.
Andrew RT Davies was investigated by Douglas Bain, the standards commissioner, over tweets about September’s general reduction in speed limits on some roads.
The complainant claimed Mr Davies’ depiction of the change as a “blanket” speed limit breached rule two of the code of conduct which says members must act truthfully.
But, in an 11-page report, published on Wednesday 24 January, the Senedd’s standards committee backed the commissioner’s finding that there was no such breach of the rules.
Mr Davies is not named in the report but sources have confirmed he is its subject.
Mr Bain was satisfied that the “blanket” description was “imprecise and inaccurate” but he concluded that that is not synonymous with being untruthful.
“Untruthfulness, like dishonesty, requires some element of deceit, fraud or moral turpitude,” he said. “Whilst all untruthful statements are imprecise and incorrect, not all imprecise and incorrect statements are untruthful.”
The commissioner pointed to evidence, which he deemed was accepted by the complainant, that Mr Davies has made clear that there are exceptions to the new general speed limit.
He said: “I cannot be satisfied there was any element of deceit, fraud or moral turpitude.”
The report said Mr Davies contended that referring to a “blanket” 20mph was not the same as calling it a universal limit, citing dictionary definitions.
But the commissioner found: “The Collins Dictionary definition, for example, is ‘applying to or covering a wide group or variety of people, conditions or situations’.
“Significantly, it does not say applying to or covering almost all of a large group.
“None of the other definitions provided suggest that ‘blanket’ means other than providing universal coverage.”
Mr Bain concluded that incorrect usage of the phrase has to be tolerated under Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The standards committee, which includes Labour, Plaid Cymru and Conservative members, agreed with the concept of honesty being about more than incorrect or careless statements.
MSs concluded that without clear evidence of intent to mislead, the threshold had not been met by Mr Davies’ comments.
The Conservative group in the Senedd declined to comment.