WE AGREE wholeheartedly with Newport Tory leader David Fouweather's call for his party's local AM to pay back public money claimed for hotel stays in Cardiff.

Since this newspaper revealed last month that Mohammad Asghar had claimed more than £1,200 for 20 nights in hotels between 2012 and 2013, there has been virtual silence from the Tory camp.

Mr Asghar has issued one bland statement saying the claims were within the rules.

He did not even take the opportunity of using his Argus column last week to explain himself.

Now Mr Fouweather, leader of the Conservative group on Newport city council, has broken ranks.

He says Mr Asghar's 'within the rules' stance will not wash with a public still cynical about politicians after the MPs' expenses scandal.

Mr Fouweather is quite right.

To live in Newport and claim hotel stays in Cardiff to attend meetings that often started at 9am is ludicrous.

Thousands of people live in Newport but work in Cardiff. Many of them have to be in work far earlier than 9am. We doubt if any of them have hotels laid on for them by their employers.

In Mr Asghar's case, his employers are the public. And he owes us all an apology and a repayment - as done any other AM who has benefited in this way.

Forget the rule book - it's time to get out the cheque book.