Sky News presenter Kay Burley off air for six months after flouting Covid-19 rules for 60th birthday bash
Sky News presenter Kay Burley has said she made “a big mistake” and “pulled” her colleagues into “this episode” after being suspended for six months for breaking Covid-19 rules.
The channel’s political editor Beth Rigby and correspondent Inzamam Rashid have also both been taken off air for three months following an internal review.
Burley previously said she was celebrating her 60th birthday at a “Covid-compliant” restaurant on Saturday and afterwards “popped into another” venue to use the bathroom.
The gathering was reportedly in London, which is under Tier 2 restrictions.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Burley said: “I have today agreed with Sky News to step back from my broadcasting role for a period of reflection.
“It’s clear to me that we are all in the fight against Covid-19 and that we all have a duty to stick firmly by the rules.
“It doesn’t matter that I thought I was Covid-compliant on a recent social event. The fact is I was wrong, I made a big mistake, and I am sorry.
“Some dear friends and colleagues – some of the most talented and committed professionals in our business – have been pulled into this episode and I regret this enormously.
“I was one of the founding presenters on Sky News. No-one is prouder of our channel’s reputation, the professionals on our team, and the impact we make.
“I very much look forward to being able to continue my 32-year career with Sky when I return.”
Sky News said: “A small number of Sky News staff attended a social event in London on Saturday evening during which Covid-19 guidelines were breached.
“As a result of an internal review Sky News presenter Kay Burley has agreed to be off air for six months, and political editor Beth Rigby and correspondent Inzamam Rashid have agreed to be off air for three months.
“All those involved regret the incident and have apologised. Everyone at Sky News is expected to comply with the rules and the company takes breaches like this very seriously indeed.”
Burley was not on air on Tuesday, and the show was instead presented by Sarah Hewson.
Following speculation over whether she would return to work before 2021, Burley shared a now deleted message on Twitter saying she had always planned to take time off to visit “my beloved Africa”.
Sharing a video from a safari trip, she wrote: “Lovely people, whatever else you read be safe in the knowledge I was always heading to my beloved Africa on Friday to sit with lions. They kill for food not sport.”
Burley, who presents a daily breakfast show on Sky News, has grilled politicians on lockdown throughout the pandemic.
In May, she questioned Cabinet minister Michael Gove on the controversy over Dominic Cummings’ trip to Barnard Castle.
Sky News did not say who would replace Burley or who would fill the role of political editor in Rigby’s absence.
Sam Coates, who joined the channel in June 2019, is currently deputy political editor.
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