were economical with

Economical with the truth

The phrase economical with the truth came into popular usage after if was used by the British then-Cabinet Secretary Robert Armstrong during the Spycatcher trial in 1986. It derives from Edmund Burke:
Falsehood and delusion are allowed in no case whatever: but, as in the exercise of all the virtues, there is an economy of truth. It is a sort of temperance, by which a man speaks truth with measure that he may speak it the longer.

Generally, it is considered as a euphemism for lying.

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