STEVE COOGAN was slammed by Piers Morgan yesterday after it emerged the comedy actor had taken advantage of the government furlough scheme to pay his gardener and housekeeper.
The left-wing Alan Partridge star, a leading campaigner for press reform, had to do without staff at his £4million home due to the lockdown rules.
So, rather than pay them as usual, he used the scheme that sees 80 per cent of wages covered by the government.
The 54-year-old — whose latest film is entitled Greed — said recently he avoided freebies offered to celebrities, adding: ‘I pay for everything.’
And furious presenter Morgan said on ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘This is stinking hypocrisy from Coogan. He’s the great man of the people, the man who said, “I don’t get anything for free” — yet he’s furloughing the gardener and housekeeper.
‘I think what we need is Steve Coogan reform. And to instil in him what being a good socialist boy actually means. I pay my staff, it’s called doing the right thing.’
Morgan said Coogan — reportedly worth £10million — was ‘worse’ than Victoria Beckham. The former Spice Girl used the furlough scheme for staff at her fashion brand — badly affected by Covid-19 — but announced a U-turn following a public backlash.
‘This now wins the Victoria Beckham award for tone deafness when you use government money to pay the staff,’ Morgan said.
Workers such as cleaners are now allowed to resume visiting homes. But at the start of the lockdown, Coogan and his staff decided they would have to stay away from his house in southern England. A source told The Sun: ‘It was established it wouldn’t be possible to continue working with the social distancing measure. So he took advantage of the furlough scheme.’
The actor said: ‘This non-story has more to do with my legal actions against the publishers of The Sun and campaign for press reform than anything else.’