KEVIN Rudd has been accused of cheating during the leaders’ debate after using speaking notes to help him against Tony Abbott.

The debate’s moderator, Sky News political editor David Speers, revealed following the debate that the Prime Minister had used the paperwork against the rules.

Footage of Mr Rudd shows he was holding a pile of papers and he appeared to repeatedly reference them while talking.

But Speers said he had not noticed during the showdown as he was focusing on his own job moderating and asking questions.

According to the rules signed off by both parties and issued by the National Press Club on Friday, both Mr Abbott and Mr Rudd were prohibited from having pre-prepared paperwork.

“The leaders may have a pen and paper on the lectern and no other documentation or props,” the rules state.

In the debate wrap up, Speers said: “Kevin Rudd had notes. That wasn’t allowed under the rules.”

Liberal frontbencher Andrew Robb later seized on the issue, pointing to the Prime Minister’s claims the election was about trust.

“Mr Rudd said this election is about trust and the first thing he did was cheat,” Mr Robb said.

“He broke the agreed rules about no notes. I think Tony Abbott looked like a leader and Kevin Rudd look a reader.”

The Prime Minister’s office did not respond to inquiries last night but he had joked before the debate about his preparations on Twitter, where he posted a photo of himself surrounded by paperwork.

“I have lots of official briefs for the debate,” he tweeted.

“Does anyone have some good jokes? KRudd.”

Commentators panned Mr Rudd for looking down at his notes during the debate and not speaking frankly off-the-cuff.

Labor figure Graham Richardson said: “If I was Kevin Rudd, I would sack whoever wrote them.”

Sky News commentator Peter Van Onselen declared it “cheating” and said it was “outrageous” – even if it was a silly rule in the first place.

“The rules are laid out and both leaders have agreed to it … it is a disadvantage to Tony Abbott,” he said.

“Kevin Rudd cheated.”

A spokesman for Mr Rudd said: “There was absolutely no intention to do anything other than comply with the rules.

“The PM arrived at lectern in full view of the audience and the panel. There were no objections raised at any time.

“We have always believed this rule is aimed at preventing the use of props.

“The PM is happy to debate Mr Abbott at any time during the election campaign without notes.”