The BBC has defended correspondent Laura Kuenssberg over asking a non-Covid related question at a Downing Street coronavirus briefing. 

The Political Editor asked Health Secretary Matt Hancock “If a serving government minister is found to have broken the rules on party funding, should they resign?” 

Hancock, sidestepped the question however on the grounds that the conference was relating to battling the coronavirus pandemic saying: "I know the Prime Minister answered lots of questions about this at the House of Commons earlier and given that this is a coronavirus press conference, you won’t be surprised that I’m not going to add to the answers the Prime Minister has already given.”

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The incident sparked headlines with the BBC receiving a number of complaints with Kuenssberg tweeting after the incident: "Matt Hancock refuses to answer a question on even the principle of whether ministers who break party funding rules or the law should resign."

Responding to complaints, the BBC said: "The line of questioning used by our correspondents at the Downing Street coronavirus briefings does usually focus on the most pertinent aspects of the pandemic. 

"However, on certain occasions, we have also used these briefings as an opportunity to ask government ministers questions on issues of importance unrelated to Covid.  In the past, ministers have been happy to address other topics, and have given in depth responses which we believe would have been of interest to our audience. 

"Earlier in the day, the Electoral Commission had announced that they had launched an investigation into the funding of Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat renovations. 

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"This is a developing and significant story, with potentially serious implications.  In this context, we believe it was legitimate for Laura Kuenssberg to use her question to the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, to reference this.

"A principle of journalism in the UK is that journalists can ask politicians questions on any subject;  politicians are of course under no obligation to respond and can decline to answer, as was the case in this instance."