Partially-deaf Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke denies taking a nap during Trade Union Bill debate

Alec Shelbrooke says he is being 'trolled' because of his disability

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The BBC has apologised after suggesting a Tory MP was "resting his eyes" in Parliament during a debate on the Trade Union Bill.

A screengrab posted on BBC Newsbeat's Twitter account showed Alec Shelbrooke leaning back in his seat with his eyes closed.

Now deleted, the accompanying text said: "This pic of Conservative MP for Elmet and Rothwell, Alec Shelbrooke, resting his eyes during a debate is going viral."

He had earlier given as speech in defence of the controversial bill, which passed a second reading by 33 votes.

Activist Rebecca Winson attempted to summarise the MP for Elmet and Rothwell’s contribution to the debate, tweeting: “He called us all misguided Marxists and then had a nap.”

But Mr Shelbrooke, who describes himself as a “blue-collar Tory” and “trade unionist” , later retweeted a story that pointed out he had in fact been leaning towards a speaker in order to hear better, because he is partially deaf.

He told political blog Guido Fawkes: "I am genuinely slightly deaf and struggle to hear. I had taken part in the debate and was trying to hear the wind ups. Seems a shame I get trolled due to being slightly deaf."

ITV political correspondent later tweeted a separate image that showed Mr Shelbrooke in the same position, but with his eyes open.



BBC Newsbeat subsequently tweeted a "heartfelt" apologu to Mr Shelbrooke.


Ms Winson also apologised for suggesting Mr Shelbrooke had been sleeping.




Speaking during the debate, the MP had offered a history of trade unions in the UK before giving the bill his support.

“Above all else, the Bill will start the process of restoring faith in the trade union movement so that those in the private sector can feel that they have workplace representation without a militant tendency that could destroy their livelihoods or funding a political party that they do not agree with,” he said.