Is it ever OK to play Candy Crush in a meeting?

Politicians have been playing games in meetings since meetings began. Running rings around your opponents is in the job description.

But the MP caught playing the addictive game Candy Crush in Parliament has opened a can of worms.

Nigel Mills insists he was "fully engaged" in the meeting. But after pictures of his gaming were on the front page of the Sun newspaper, the House of Parliament has begun an investigation.

A Surrey councillor was criticised for allegedly playing the same game on her phone. Complaints were made about Marsha Moseley, councillor for Ash, from members of the public attending the meeting.

Whilst not directly commenting on whether she did play the game or not, Guildford Borough Council has now drawn up new guidance on the use of smartphones and iPads, some of which were issued to councillors to help them do their work.

Image copyright AFP

As examples of unacceptable use the Guildford guidelines cite:

"Extended periods of use that suggests that insufficient attention is being paid to the meeting" and "frequently checking emails and messages that are not related to the meeting".

The guidelines suggest that it is OK to spend time on emails or texts on domestic matters such as childcare arrangements, as long as the time spent in the meeting is "within reason".

But one thing the council bans councillors from is "taking and sending electronic images of proceedings".

Mission to report

The only problem is that Eric Pickles has made it a mission to allow wider reporting of council meetings.

The Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014 that came into force in August expressly permits any person who attends a meeting to use any communication method to report on the meeting.

"Reporting" includes photographing or making a video or audio recording of proceedings at a meeting and providing written commentary on proceedings using social media.

Not quite the same as playing Candy Crush. But how can you tell what's actually happening on screen as a councillor appears to be distracted?

And hasn't it always been like that? Who hasn't doodled on their notepad and switched off during the boring bits?