Pressure was today mounting on the Assembly's opposition leader over his £229 iPod, bought courtesy of the taxpayer.

Some Conservative AMs want a clear-the-air group meeting with their leader Nick Bourne, but there are no plans for one until the New Year.

Last week it was revealed that he and fellow Tory AM Alun Cairns used their office allowances to buy iPods.

Mr Bourne was today meeting advisers to discuss how to respond to a front-page comment piece by the Western Mail calling for his resignation.

He insists he has no music on his portable MP3 player and he only uses it to listen to political speeches and to help him learn Welsh.

He also bought a £120 trouser press and spent more than £5,000 on "essential’’ bathroom work for his second home in Cardiff between December 2006 and April 2007.

Despite their privately-expressed dismay, it is unclear whether any member of the Conservative group in Cardiff Bay will come forward to oust Mr Bourne.

Shadow health minister Jonathan Morgan, widely seen as a potential leader, has emailed colleagues to say they need to assess the fallout from the expenses story.

His comments reflect a feeling that the affair has damaged the Conservatives' claim to be the guardians of the public purse, a role Mr Bourne has tried to cultivate by questioning Assembly Government expenditure.

Mr Bourne was forced to apologise to his staff in October when he distanced himself from a Tory dossier attacking Rhodri Morgan's conduct as First Minister.

After appearing to wash his hands of the document, it quickly emerged Mr Bourne had in fact personally approved it before it was released by his press team.

A Welsh Conservative spokesman said: "We note the comments made in today's Western Mail and are considering our response.’’ The Assembly published a full breakdown of AMs' expenses on Friday. There is no suggestion that any of the claims, all of which were signed off by Assembly officials, break the rules.