Sky News' Kay Burley Off Air For Six Months After Covid Rule Breach

Beth Rigby and Inzamam Rashid will also remain off air for three months.

Sky NewsKay Burley will be off air for six months following an internal review into a night out she shared with colleagues that breached Covid-19 safety rules.

Political editor Beth Rigby and north of England correspondent Inzamam Rashid will also remain off air for three months after attending Burley’s 60th birthday party, Sky News confirmed on Thursday.

Burley – the presenter of the network’s flagship breakfast show – celebrated her birthday in London at the weekend, while the capital was under tier 2 restrictions.

Kay Burley will remain off air until the summer of 2021
Kay Burley will remain off air until the summer of 2021
Sky News

“Everyone at Sky News is expected to comply with the rules and the company takes breaches like this very seriously indeed,” Sky said.

“All those involved regret the incident and have apologised.”

Burley tweeted on Thursday: “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.”

She continued: “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.”

In an internal email sent to Sky News staff – seen by HuffPost UK – Rigby told colleagues: “I let you down and I want you to know I’m very sorry and it will not happen again.”

She wrote: “It was wrong of me to attend the dinner ever, and it was wrong of me to hug Kay Burley goodbye as I was leaving to go home.

“I’ve covered the guidelines throughout the pandemic and I should have known better. Everyone is making sacrifices and is restricted in many ways right now and mine was a huge error of judgement.”

Rigby added that she will use the time away from her role to “reflect on all of this and then come back ready to work with you all again in the new year”.

Beth Rigby and Inzamam Rashid
Beth Rigby and Inzamam Rashid
Sky News

Rashid told co-workers in his own email: “I made a mistake and I feel awful for how my actions might reflect on Sky News and the amazing people who work here.

“What hurts the most is that I’ve seen the hard work, sacrifice and the very best from everyone during the most challenging of years. It’s been a horrendous year for the country and for Sky News there has been huge pressure to tell a global story all the while mixed with the personal sacrifices and hardship you have all had to contend with.”

Burley had already confirmed reports she will not present Sky News until the New Year, but insisted this was because she had a holiday to Africa already planned.

She will now not return until the summer.

Burley initially said only that she had celebrated with a gathering at a “Covid compliant” restaurant on Saturday and afterwards “popped into another” venue to use the bathroom.

On Monday evening, the presenter tweeted an apology, writing: “I want to apologise to you all for an error of judgment. On Saturday night I was enjoying my 60th birthday at a Covid compliant restaurant. I am embarrassed to say that later in the evening I inadvertently broke the rules.

“I had been waiting for a taxi at 11pm to get home. Desperate for the loo I briefly popped into another restaurant to spend a penny. I can only apologise.”

Burley was subsequently not on air on Tuesday, and her morning current affairs show was instead presented by Sarah Hewson.

During the pandemic, Burley has repeatedly grilled politicians on lockdown and Covid restrictions. In May she famously quizzed cabinet minister Michael Gove on the controversy over Dominic Cummings’ trip to Barnard Castle.


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