Kay Burley, a top television news anchor, has been suspended from Sky News for six months after flouting lockdown rules during her 60th birthday party. Reports claim she will continue to receive full pay.
Ms Burley admitted that she had broken coronavirus social distancing laws when on Saturday she met with nine friends, including Sky News colleagues and alumni, for a birthday dinner in London. She then visited another restaurant after the 11 p.m. curfew, before returning to a house where people from three other households were mixing.
London is currently under Tier 2 restrictions, banning socialisation outside of your household or support bubble in public or private indoor settings. Where it is possible to socialise outdoors, there remains a limit of six people. Her actions are forbidden under current restrictions, of which the influential anchor has been a vocal champion.
British broadcaster Sky News, launched in 1989 by Rupert Murdoch before being bought out by NBC owner Comcast in 2018, revealed on Thursday that Burley would be suspended from the airwaves for the next six months, according to the BBC.
Ms Burley, a founding member of the commercial news channel, had written on Twitter that she had “made a big mistake” and was “sorry”.
Sky News’s political editor Beth Rigby and news correspondent Inzamam Rashid were among the nine friends present and have also been suspended for three months. Others who attended include Sky News anchor Sam Washington, and the network’s former royal correspondent Paul Harrison, who is now the media chief for the Chinese Communist Party-controlled telecoms giant Huawei.
Rigby was also caught on camera hugging Burley — another breach of coronavirus restrictions — for which she later apologised.
“I’ve covered the guidelines throughout the pandemic, and I should have known better,” Ms Rigby wrote to colleagues, acknowledging at the same time the “sacrifices” ordinary Britons are forced to make while abiding by the oppressive lockdown rules.
Corbyn’s Brother Found Guilty of Breaking Coronavirus Law at Anti-Lockdown Protest https://t.co/yT5F71djKP
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 3, 2020
Mr Rashid, the north of England correspondent, further breached lockdown by taking a 206-mile ‘non-essential’ trip from Manchester to London for Burley’s party. Manchester is in Tier 3, where residents are recommended against leaving their area. Sources speaking to political news website Guido Fawkes said that Sky News’s management considered Rashid’s breach of rules “particularly egregious”.
While the BBC said that it was not revealed whether the high-earning presenter would be paid during her half-year absence, The Sun reports that Kay Burley will be on full pay. The Daily Mail also claims that Rigby and Rashid will also continue to draw their salaries in their entirety.
Both Ms Burley and Ms Rigby were vocal critics of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s former senior advisor Dominic Cummings. Johnson’s ally had allegedly broken lockdown rules by travelling to another part of the country to secure emergency childcare, later taking a drive to test his eyesight as he was recovering from the Chinese virus.
During a press conference on the scandal — inflated by the media and Remainer politicians during another Brexit proxy war — Ms Rigby claimed Mr Cummings’ actions could “threaten public health, if people decide that the rules don’t matter”, asking the senior advisor: “How can you even countenance staying on and not resigning?”
Rigby continued during the Downing Street press conference in May: “Why are you so different? What people see here is that there’s one rule for you… and another rule for them?”
If you are going to adopt a position of moral superiority, you should probably do so from a position of moral superiority. 😂 https://t.co/3r1ruciP5I
— Laurence Fox (@LozzaFox) December 8, 2020