Author John O'Farrell praised for ‘sublime’ takedown of Angela Rayner ‘non-story’

Author John O'Farrell praised for ‘sublime’ takedown of Angela Rayner ‘non-story’

Related video: Nick Robinson and Laura Kuenssberg laugh about Boris Johnson's 'long answers'

BBC Radio 4 Today

As the discourse over Angela Rayner’s tax affairs intensified this week, one author has been praised online for his take on the story, which concerns allegations the deputy Labour leader gave false information about where she was living amid the sale of her council house a decade ago – which she denies.

Greater Manchester Police confirmed on Friday they were investigating the issue, which has sparked controversy over whether Rayner should have paid capital gains tax on the sale.

In a statement issued that evening, Rayner said: “I am completely confident I’ve followed the rules at all times.

“We have seen the Tory party use this playbook before; reporting political opponents to the police during election campaigns to distract from their record.

“I will say as I did before: if I committed a criminal offence, I would of course do the right thing and step down. The British public deserves politicians who know the rules apply to them.”

And when John O’Farrell - an author known for his work writing for Have I Got News For You and Spitting Image, as well as the musicals Mrs Doubtfire and Just for One Day – was asked about the controversy on this week’s edition of Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, he didn’t hold back in criticising the media’s approach to the whole situation.

He said: “I think this such a ridiculous non-story, and when we’re sitting here and we’ve got the war in Ukraine, war in the Middle East, and we’re talking about something that happened that long ago – something the police could only prosecute within the first year after it happened.

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

“It’s not a story, just ‘cause the Mail says it’s a story.”

Kuenssberg, moving the conversation to Iain Duncan Smith, commented in response: “I think a lot of viewers will think that Greater Manchester Police aren’t exactly a bunch of pussycats who just investigate something because a Tory MP tells them to.”

O’Farrell’s scrutiny of media coverage of the Rayner story has since been praised online:

Responding to the online reaction to his comments on Twitter/X, O’Farrell wrote: “This is clearly overstating it but I am so frustrated that supposedly impartial news outlets feel the need to follow the Mail’s agenda.”

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