A councillor caught playing Scrabble on his laptop during Tuesday’s council budget meeting said he was trying to distract his mind from the deputy leader’s "boastful" opening speech.

Liberal Democrat councillor Martin Elengorn diverted his attention to the word game during Conservative Councillor Geoffrey Samuel’s speech.

He was photographed by Conservative councillor Helen Hill, who said he played for about 10 minutes until he was passed a note telling him he had been spotted.

Coun Elengorn, who represents Teddington and is the opposition spokesman for environment and planning, said he used the game to try to block out some of the "ritual sparring" that was taking place at the meeting.

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He said: "The only way of making it through Coun Samuel’s bombastic boasts is to try and distract the mind. Unfortunately, I am capable of doing two things at once and every word registered.

"I don’t think I was the only one playing games, but I won’t name names."

Coun Elengorn, whose role of councillor provides him with an annual allowance of £9,399, said the meetings had become a scene of ritual sparring and antagonism, which has been going on as long as he could remember.

He said: "I think we should get together and talk about it. One of the supposed advantages of filming these meetings is that we would be ashamed and wouldn’t behave like this anymore but it doesn’t seem to have worked."

Coun Samuel said he found Coun Elengorn’s activities during his speech "quite funny, actually".

He said: "It shows he was too busy playing Scrabble to make any contribution to the most important meeting of the year, although a friend of mine in the gallery said he wasn’t the only one playing games on his computer."

Coun Elengorn said he was a competent Scrabble player but often bettered by his brother at the game.

He said: "I play on advanced until my average slips below 50 per cent then I switch back to intermediate."

The Conservative Party has 39 councillors on Richmond Council after winning back control of the council in 2010, with the Liberal Democrat opposition on 15 councillors. 

OK to play Scrabble in council meetings? Let us know at letters@rtt.co.uk or leave a comment below.