THE BBC should not focus on “gossip” stories pushed by the Conservatives for political reasons, Laura Kuenssberg was told live on her flagship show on Sunday.

John O'Farrell, a political comedy writer who has led on shows such as Have I Got News For You and Spitting Image, took issue with the BBC host raising a story about Angela Rayner’s tax affairs, which he branded a “non-story”.

Officers with Greater Manchester Police are investigating whether Labour’s deputy leader broke electoral law after Tory allegations that she may have given false information about her main residence a decade ago.

READ MORE: 'Labour poodle': How Michael Shanks's MP speeches stack up after six months

Rayner was registered at a former council house she bought in Stockport, but it is understood Conservative Party deputy chairman James Daly has suggested neighbours say she lived with her husband at a separate property.

Kuenssberg raised the story on her BBC Sunday politics programme, noting as she did so that “clearly the Conservatives have been trying to pull strings here in keeping this in the public eye and in the newspapers”.

Responding, O’Farrell, who has unsuccessfully stood for Labour as a Westminster candidate in the past, hit out at the BBC for focusing on what he called “gossip”.

The writer said: “I think this is such a ridiculous non-story. When we're sitting here and we've got you know, war in Ukraine, war in the Middle East, and we're talking about something that happened that long ago, something that the police could only prosecute within the first year after it happening.

“This was in the FT yesterday, that if the police were going to take any action about these alleged financial misdemeanours, that would have had to be in the first year.

“So everyone in Manchester right now, I hope all the crimes that you've endured have been sorted because Manchester police are spending their time on this.”

Greater Manchester Police initially said it would not be investigating the allegations, but following a complaint from Daly, the force confirmed it had reassessed information and launched a probe.

O’Farrell went on: “Laura, I have to say, for you as a broadcaster, for the BBC here to keep spending time on this, and to have [Labour shadow home secretary] Yvette Cooper sit here and come and talk about violence against women and girls, and that to take second place to this bit of gossip that the Mail has pushed and pushed and pushed.

“For the BBC to say, ‘we have to cover this because the Mail have, keep covering it and keep covering it’. And so it becomes a story, and it's not a story just because the Mail says it’s a story.”

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf: Scotland in 'choice of values' at next General Election

Kuenssberg then asked former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith for his response.

He said: “I hate all this personal attack stuff myself. I think it ultimately demeans us. But, it has to be said that Angela Rayner has pursued other people on almost exactly that.

“She spends a lot of her time calling on people to resign in advance of any investigation. So you know, if you're going to play that game, then it's going to come back onto you.

“I wish we wouldn't do it constantly in politics. I agree there's many bigger issues to discuss that we won't get round to.

“But that reality is the case, that were this to be a Conservative that had done this. I'm certain that Angela Rayner would have been calling for them to resign.”