Eating humble pie, Kay? Suspended Sky News presenter Burley breaks cover as she’s seen for first time since rule-breaking 60th birthday bash with colleagues (but this time she’s dining alone)
- Kay Burley will be off air for six months after breaching coronavirus rules with her 60th birthday celebrations
- Colleagues Beth Rigby and Inzamam Rashid will be off air for three months after Saturday’s party in London
- Presenter Samantha Washington also attended the party but she is expected to be back on air next week
- Miss Burley says she is ‘sorry’ and ‘made a big mistake’, while Miss Rigby says it was ‘wrong’ of her to attend
- All three Sky News journalists will be on full pay during their time off air, according to unconfirmed reports
Kay Burley was today seen walking around a neighbourhood eating a pie as she was pictured for the first time since being taken off air by Sky News for breaching coronavirus rules during her 60th birthday party.
Miss Burley was seen in South Harrow, North West London, as it emerged some colleagues are said to be angry at the perceived leniency of punishment against the presenter after she was banned by the channel for six months.
One industry source described the outcome following Saturday night’s event in London as a ‘mild rebuke’, while bosses refused to comment on reports that she would remain on full pay while she is off-screen.
Political editor Beth Rigby and reporter Inzamam Rashid have both been taken off air for three months, while Miss Burley’s fellow presenter Samantha Washington, who also attended the party, is expected back on air next week.
Miss Burley, who has been with Sky for 32 years, was due to fly to Africa today for a pre-booked safari holiday. Sky bosses are thought to believe that months off-screen represents a significant punishment for high-profile stars.
Sky News presenter Kay Burley was today pictured walking around a neighbourhood in North West London eating a pie
Miss Burley was seen walking around South Harrow in North West London today after she was taken off air for six months
Miss Burley, pictured today, was taken off air by Sky News for breaching coronavirus rules during her 60th birthday party
Miss Burley is seen in North West London today, one day after Sky News announced she would be taken off air for half a year
Sky News presenter Miss Burley was today seen walking around the neighbourhood in North West London eating a pie
Sky colleagues are said to be angry at the perceived leniency of punishment against presenter Miss Burley, pictured today
Miss Burley is pictured walking around North West London today after she was banned by the channel for six months
One industry source described Miss Burley being taken off air for six months following the event in London as a ‘mild rebuke’
Bosses refused to comment on reports that Miss Burley, pictured today, would remain on full pay while she is off-screen
Miss Burley smiles as she walks along the street in South Harrow today after Sky News took her off air for six months
Miss Burley walks along the high street in South Harrow today, one day after she was taken off air for six months by Sky News
Miss Burley was seen in North West London today following the fallout from her 60th birthday party on Saturday
Miss Burley walks around South Harrow as she is seen for the first time since being taken off air by Sky News
Miss Burley, who has been with Sky for 32 years, was due to fly to Africa today for a pre-booked safari holiday
Sky bosses are thought to believe that months off-screen represents a significant punishment for high-profile stars
Miss Burley is photographed in North West London today after she was taken off air by Sky News for breaching Covid rules
Miss Burley is photographed in South Harrow today while walking along the high street after being taken off air by Sky News
It is understood that Miss Burley, pictured today, will not be carrying out any work duties for Sky while she is off air
But sources claimed this was not a view accepted by some of their colleagues. One senior executive said: ‘There is an awful lot of disquiet at what is seen as a gentle slap on the hand for Kay Burley.
‘Giving her six months off doesn’t rescue the integrity of our news organisation We want to know if her salary is still going to flow into her account. If it is, her lawyers have done really well.
‘She should have been sacked and sent packing along with the others. They knew they were breaking the rules and were public faces of Sky News.
‘A few of us have been saying that these feeble suspensions send out the wrong message and also indicate that Kay Burley is bigger than Sky News.’
It is understood that they will not be carrying out any work duties for Sky while they are off air.
Sky News presenter Kay Burley (pictured in October) has agreed to be off air for six months after breaching coronavirus rules
Sky News host Kay Burley (centre, in black) and Beth Rigby (right, in red) at the 60th birthday party in London on Saturday
Inzamam Rashid (centre), Sam Washington (right), and former royal correspondent Paul Harrison (left) also attended
Miss Burley (centre, hugging someone) and Miss Rigby (in red) are pictured after dinner at the Century Club on Saturday
Miss Rigby is pictured outside the Century Club in Soho on Saturday after a dinner with Miss Burley for the host’s birthday
Mr Harrison (left) and Mr Rashid (centre) also attended the dinner along with Miss Burley’s fellow presenter Miss Washington
It had initially been claimed Miss Rigby (in red) could avoid losing her job because she was only present for part of the evening
Sky News employees Miss Burley (centre in black) and Miss Rigby (right in red) at Miss Burley’s birthday party on Saturday
Miss Burley, who has been with Sky News for 32 years, said in a statement that she was ‘sorry’ and ‘made a big mistake’
Miss Rigby told all Sky staff in a statement that it was ‘wrong’ of her to attend the dinner and hug Miss Burley goodbye
Sky News announced live on air that an internal review into Miss Burley’s party found ‘Covid guidelines were breached’.
Sky presenter Adam Boulton appeared to reveal his stance on Wednesday after sharing – then deleting – one observer’s tweet which described those who attended the party before a planned TV report from a hospital as ‘morons’.
Mr Boulton later told the Guardian that his retweets did not necessarily constitute endorsements, but added: ‘That said, I retweet things because I think they’re of public interest, and certainly my feed has reflected a lot of people who are very concerned about the credibility of Sky News, and that I think is the important issue: the credibility of our journalism.’
It came as photographs emerged of Miss Burley and her Sky colleagues on the night of the party. In one, a masked Miss Burley can be seen embracing Miss Rigby.
Miss Burley will be off air for six months after the party, attended by colleague and friend Miss Rigby (pictured together)
Miss Burley apologised following the party at private members’ club Century Club in London’s Soho (file picture)
Miss Burley muddied the waters by tweeting that she was always due to be on annual leave in Africa from the end of this week
Adam Boulton, who has worked with Miss Burley for 31 years, retweeted a post yesterday branding the partygoers ‘morons’
Miss Rigby and Miss Burley, pictured hugging outside 10 Downing Street in London, are known to be close friends
Inzamam Rashid (left) and Sam Washington (right) were taken off air while the internal inquiry was carried out this week
Miss Burley said that she spent Saturday night at a ‘Covid-compliant restaurant’ in London before flouting tier two restrictions
-The group dined at The Century Club in Soho, with some reportedly later attending another nearby restaurant, Folie, after the 11pm curfew.
Kay Burley, Beth Rigby and Sky News statements
‘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-complaint 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.’
‘To all my colleagues, I just wanted to write to you all to tell you how sorry I am for what I’ve done in recent days and let you know it will never happen again. It was wrong of me to attend the dinner event, 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. You will know how proud I am to work for Sky News. I also want you to know how sorry I am that I let you all down as well as our viewers whom we’re here to serve. I will use this time to reflect on all of this and then come back ready to work with you all again in the new year.’
‘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.’
Some of Miss Burley’s colleagues were also reported to have carried on the party at her London home.
The controversy has prompted ‘real concern’ at Sky News over whether those involved can continue to hold ministers to account if they have broken the rules themselves.
Following the station’s internal review, a statement was read on air at 4.15pm yesterday.
Revealing that ‘over the course of the evening, Covid guidelines were breached’, the statement continued: ‘Sky News expects all team members to fully comply with the Covid restrictions. All those involved regret the incident and have apologised.
‘Following our review of what took place on 5th December, we have agreed with Beth Rigby and Inzamam Rashid that they will not be on air for three months, and we have agreed with Kay Burley that she will not be on air for six months.’
Minutes later, Miss Burley – who turns 60 next Thursday – put her own statement on social media, confirming she would ‘step back from my broadcasting role for a period of reflection’.
She added: ‘It doesn’t matter that I thought I was Covid-compliant… 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.’
In a separate email to colleagues, she wrote: ‘I’m an idiot. I’m really very sorry. I know I have let so many of you down. There’s really nothing else I can say to excuse my actions.’
Miss Rigby told staff ‘how sorry’ she was for what she had done, adding that ‘it will never happen again’.
The journalist, who has regularly grilled ministers throughout the pandemic in televised press conferences, said: ‘It was wrong of me to attend the dinner event, and it was wrong of me to hug Kay Burley goodbye as I was leaving to go home.’
Adding that she ‘should have known better’, Miss Rigby admitted to ‘a huge error of judgment’ and said she would use the coming months ‘reflect on all of this’.
Mr Rashid told colleagues he felt ‘awful’ about having ‘let you down’.
Amid the fall-out from the situation, there is known to have been ‘real concern’ at the broadcaster about how the presenters could continue to hold ministers to account if she had broken the rules herself. Sky denied the trio had been suspended.
Kay Burley: The no-nonsense news viper who ‘hated being married’, got in a punch-up outside Naomi Campbell’s trial and was branded ‘a bit dim’ live on TV
By Amie Gordon for MailOnline
Kay Burley is the no-nonsense news viper who relishes holding MPs to account – but has not been without her own share of controversy in a broadcast career spanning more than three decades.
The ambitious anchor has risen up through the ranks of the broadcasting world and boasts ‘more hours of live TV than anyone else’, but regularly divides opinion with her forthright attacks on politicians.
The 59-year-old seldom talks about her personal life though did once admit she had ‘two successful marriages’ – but ‘hated being married’.
From left: Tony Blackburn, Peter Marshall, Derek Jameson, Andrew Neil, Alastair Yates, Rupert Murdoch, Penny Smith, Bob Friends, Kay Burley during the launch of Sky TV on February 5, 1989
By her early 20s, Miss Burley had already divorced her first husband, Steve Burley, whom she met aged 17, on a local newspaper in Wigan, and married when she was 19.
She moved to Sky when she was 28 and, three years later, met her second husband, football agent Steve Kutner.
By the age of 32 she was pregnant with their son, Alexander, but the pair split when he was one.
The mother and son remain close and in her Twitter bio she describes herself as, ‘Sky News founder member. Animal lover. Mountain climber. Impossibly proud mum.’
She had a relationship with former Political Editor of The Sun newspaper, George Pascoe-Watson for five-and-a-half years but they separated shortly after he left newspapers for a job in PR in 2009.
In December 2017 Miss Burley was joined at Piers Morgan’s birthday bash by her date for the night, British Airways pilot Jonny Knowlson, with whom she was spotted enjoying a night out at the Tate Modern two months earlier.
In 2008, Miss Burley clashed with a photographer during the scrum outside a London court ahead of a case involving Naomi Campbell
Jonny, who at the age of 30 was 27 years Kay’s junior, met the newsreader when she employed the help of four ‘strong, capable’ British Airways pilots to help her overcome her fear of flying earlier that year.
In 2011 Miss Burley turned her hand to writing fiction, publishing her debut novel First Ladies; ‘ an irresistible cross between The Thick Of It and Jilly Cooper’ in which ‘the glamorous worlds of glossy magazines, TV and politics are laid bare’.
In an article for the Daily Mail last year, Burley said it was ‘nonsense that wrinkles are a better look for a mature woman’ as she spoke about how she’d treated herMiss self to a facelift for her 50th birthday.
She admitted to ‘dabbling’ with Botox and fillers, as well as having a lower facelift, brow lift and bags removed from under her eyes.
The fracas happened as they waited for supermodel Naomi Campbell to arrive to face charges for assaulting airport police
She added: ‘Women, especially those in the public eye, are always more harshly judged than their male counterparts.’
The 59-year-old was born to parents Kath and Frank in Wigan, Lancashire at the start of the Swinging Sixties and has often praised her late parents for giving her an upbringing ‘full of love.’
She said the family had no money but her parents were ‘amazing.’
Miss Burley began her journalism career at the Lancashire Evening Post and Chronicle, aged 17 before moving into broadcast as a reporter on Granada Reports in 1981 as a researcher for Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan.
By 1985 she’d been offered a reporting job at TV-am before moving to Rupert Murdoch’s Sky in 1988 where she was at the helm of the fledgling Sky News.
Kay Burley presents to camera outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital on July 22, 2013 ahead of the birth of Prince George
Miss Burley quickly moved up the ranks to become its leading reporter, breaking the news of Princess Diana’s death in 1997 and was live on air in 2001 when the Twin Towers in New York were attacked.
The 9/11 coverage earned her a Bafta, which she ‘keeps in the loo’.
She was handed a plum new gig in September 2018 when she was given her own show in her name, which 12 months later moved to the prime time morning slot and was rebranded Kay Burley @ Breakfast.
The agenda-setting gig – set up at the crux of Britain’s Brexit negotiations and the general election – is filmed live in Westminster and sees Miss Burley joined by a host of politicians and critics.
Last year Miss Burley admitted she ‘found it difficult to resist’ being ‘sucked in by the aura’ and charisma of political figureheads including Boris Johnson, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair.
But sitting in the hotseat at Sky has led to Miss Burley accused of her fair share of controversies.
Then-Prime Minister David Cameron meets Miss Burley during a reception to celebrate the achievements of women in the media at 10 Downing St on May 16, 2013
In 2008, Miss Burley clashed with a photographer during the scrum outside a London court as they waited for supermodel Naomi Campbell to arrive to face charges for assaulting airport police.
The newscaster was apparently hit in the cheek by a camera – and was then seen with her hand around a photographer’s throat.
The bust-up happened as 100 journalists fought to get a view of the model at Uxbridge Magistrates Court in North-West London.
There were suggestions that the photographer, Kirsty Wigglesworth from the Associated Press agency, had bumped into Miss Burley.
The same year, Miss Burley was deluged with criticism when she asked the wife of Suffolk serial killer Steve Wright, ‘Do you think if you’d had a better sex life he wouldn’t have done this?’
Miss Burley admitted she ‘found it difficult to resist’ being ‘sucked in by the aura’ and charisma of political figureheads including Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and Boris Johnson (pictured together here in 2019)
In 2010, she had to apologise for joking that Catholic US Vice President Joe Biden, who had ashes on his forehead to mark Ash Wednesday, had a ‘bruise’ that he’d picked up from ‘walking into a door’.
Labour MP Chris Bryant later told her, ‘You seem to be a bit dim, if you don’t mind me saying.’
Miss Burley hit back: ‘That’s the first time anyone’s said on TV that I’m dim and it was water off a duck’s back. There’s a photo of Chris Bryant on the internet in his underpants that he took for a gay website. One can judge who’s the most dim.’
In September 2019, she had an awkward stand-off with Brexit Party MEP Lucy Harris when she was accused of not being impartial and of having voted Remain. The conversation turned heated when Miss Burley accused Ms Harris of being over-the-top by saying Remainers wanted 15 referendums until they got the result they wanted.
Just two months later, Miss Burley provoked a slew of Ofcom complaints after she was accused of a ‘cheap stunt’ for empty-chairing Tory chairman James Cleverly on her show.
In 2011 Burley turned her hand to writing fiction, publishing her debut novel First Ladies; ‘ an irresistible cross between The Thick Of It and Jilly Cooper’ in which ‘the glamorous worlds of glossy magazines, TV and politics are laid bare’
Miss Burley showed an empty chair and claimed that Mr Cleverly had refused to appear – but he insisted he had not agreed an interview with her and was in the process of another interview.
The presenter repeatedly showed the empty chair and reeled off a series of questions which she had intended to ask him, sparking a raft of complaints from viewers.
At the height of the pandemic, Miss Burley tore into cabinet minister Michael Gove after he appeared on Sky News to defend Dominic Cummings for breaking coronavirus restrictions.
She added: ‘What people see here is that there’s one rule for you… and another rule for them.’
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