“I was not asleep during Afghanistan debate” says Ealing North MP

14:57 18 September 2012

Labour MP Stephen Pound (right) has said he was not sleeping while Denis MacShane spoke in the House of Commons during an emergency debate on Afghanistan yesterday. Picture: PA Wire

Labour MP Stephen Pound (right) has said he was not sleeping while Denis MacShane spoke in the House of Commons during an emergency debate on Afghanistan yesterday. Picture: PA Wire

An MP who looked like he was dozing off during an emergency debate on Afghanistan has admitted the pictures look “awful” but insists he did not fall asleep.

Footage of Stephen Pound showed him lowering his head while his eyes were seemingly shut a number of times during the urgent question yesterday following another spate of “green on blue” killings.

The Labour MP, who represents Ealing North, was sitting behind colleague Denis MacShane, the MP who had forced Defence Secretary Philip Hammond to the House to answer MPs’ questions, when he appeared to nod off.

Mr Pound’s head bowed particularly when Mr MacShane began quoting from the poem Dulce et Decorum est by Wilfred Owen.

The MP admitted the pictures did not look good but said the angle of the shots made it appear that he had taken a nap when he was actually checking his phone.

He said he had received a number of “aggressive” emails overnight accusing him of being disrespectful to British troops but insisted that was not the case.

Mr Pound said: “I just don’t understand what this is all about. I had actually been on my feet at 3.30pm, I was talking in local government questions, and I was on the radio at 3.50pm.

“The pictures are awful. I was actually looking down at my phone.

“I didn’t fall asleep in the Chamber, particularly not in such a sensitive discussion as that. I was obviously looking at my phone.

“Never in a million years would I be disrespectful, particularly on an occasion like that.”

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