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Osborne First Class 'Ticket Row' Rejected
Claims that George Osborne tried to sit in a first class train carriage with only a standard ticket have been firmly rejected.
The Chancellor's office said the minister had simply decided to upgrade at the last minute and his staff had sought out the train manager to pay the difference.
Earlier reports that there had been a "stand-off" between a ticket inspector and one of Mr Osborne's aides were hotly denied.
The Chancellor's version was backed up by Virgin Trains, which said in a statement that the situation, which occured on the 1511 from Wilmslow to London Euston, had been dealt with "amicably".
A spokesman for Mr Osborne said: "The Chancellor got a different train than planned due to diary change following a series of meetings in his constituency.
"As he had no seat reservation on the new train which was crowded, he decided to upgrade - and obviously intended and was happy to pay."
Virgin Trains said in a statement: "The Chancellor, who was travelling in first class accommodation, held a standard class ticket.
"As soon as the train left Wilmslow, an aide went to find the train manager to explain the situation and arrange to pay for an upgrade.
"It was agreed that the Chancellor would remain in first class and an amount of £189.50 was paid by the aide to cover the upgrade for Mr Osborne and his PA."
The company said there was no disagreement or any discussion between the train manager and Mr Osborne.
ITV reporter Rachel Townsend, who was on the same train as the Chancellor, tweeted about the incident.
"Very interesting train journey to Euston Chancellor George Osborne just got on at Wilmslow with a STANDARD ticket and he has sat in FIRST CLASS," she wrote.
Later, Townsend told ITV: "George Osborne got on the train with aides at Wilmslow and went straight to first class.
"Then his aide approached the ticket collector right next to me. He said he is travelling with George and he has a standard ticket but can he remain in first class?
"The guard said no. The aide said Osborne couldn't possibly sit in standardclass. The guard replied saying if he wants to stay it's £160. The aide said he couldn't pay and he couldn't really sit in standard. The guard refused to budge.
"The guard went on gathering tickets and later told me Osborne had agreed to cough up the £160."
Responding to the incident, Labour's shadow cabinet office minister Michael Dugher, said: "Another day, another demonstration of how out of touch this Government is.
"Just like Andrew Mitchell, George Osborne obviously thinks it's one rule for him and another for the plebs he's so keen to sit apart from," he added.
RMT leader Bob Crow said: "This says it all about this rotten Government. Here we have a millionaire chancellor who thinks he's above the normal rules and laws. George Osborne attempting to bunk first class is this ConDem administration in a nut shell."