STEVE Coogan has hit back at a national newspaper after it claimed he has furloughed his gardener and housekeeper.

The Sun published the story yesterday saying the Sussex actor, best known for playing comic creation Alan Partridge but also a highly-respected film star, had used the Government scheme whereby the employee is off work with the state paying 80 per cent of their wages.

The scheme was set up to help keep people in employment during the coronavirus pandemic.

But, when approached for comment, Mr Coogan said it was a “non-story”.

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He added that he believed it “has more to do with my legal actions against the publishers of The Sun and campaign for press reform than anything else”.

Furloughing staff is lawful.

But Conservative Member of Parliament Andrew Brigden, speaking to The Sun, argued that the furlough scheme was intended to “protect businesses that are suspended and can’t operate during the coronavirus pandemic”.

Mr Coogan’s representatives have been contacted for comment.