Kay Burley off air for six months at Sky News after Covid breach

10 December 2020, 20:56 | Updated: 10 December 2020, 21:06

Kay Burley will be off air for half a year following a Covid breach
Kay Burley will be off air for half a year following a Covid breach. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Sky News presenter Kay Burley has agreed to be taken off air for six months after breaking coronavirus restrictions.

The TV host admitted she made "a big mistake" and "pulled" her colleagues into "this episode" after the 59-year-old admitted to breaking Covid-19 regulations during celebrations for her 60th birthday in London.

Sky's political editor Beth Rigby and correspondent Inzamam Rashid have also been handed three-month suspensions for their part in the breach following an internal review.

Burley previously said she was celebrating her milestone birthday at a "Covid-compliant" restaurant on Saturday evening before "popping into another" venue to use the bathroom.

The gathering was said to have taken place in Soho, London - which is in Tier 2 - with reports suggesting some of the group headed back to the presenter's house to continue the party.

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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."

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The channel said in a statement: "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."

Amid speculation over whether the journalist would return to the screen 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."

The TV host, who presents a daily breakfast show on Sky News, has grilled numerous politicians on lockdown, and breaches of measures, throughout the Covid pandemic.

In May, she questioned Cabinet Minister Michael Gove on the controversy over Boris Johnson's former key aide Dominic Cummings' trip to Barnard Castle.

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