You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Kay Burley and Beth Rigby among four Sky News over 60th birthday bash

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 09/12/2020 Martin Robinson, Chief Reporter and Jennifer Ruby For The Daily Mail
a couple of people posing for the camera: MailOnline logo © Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo

Three Sky News senior reporters including political editor Beth Rigby have been taken off air along with Kay Burley for celebrating her 60th birthday in breach of Covid rules, employees were told at an all-staff meeting today.

North of England correspondent Inzamam Rashid and host Sam Washington have been taken off air along with Ms Rigby pending the result of an investigation following presenter Miss Burley's party in London on Saturday.

Veteran colleague Adam Boulton appeared to back claims they acted like 'morons' for 'illegally going on a bender', with Miss Burley absent from presenting duties yesterday after issuing an apology for 'inadvertently' breaking Tier Two restrictions during the party in London on Saturday night and is set to be away until early 2021.

Sky News stalwart Mr Boulton, who has worked with Miss Burley since 1989, today retweeted a viewer's angry message about the scandal, which said: 'Look at the state of Sky News. The morons spent all summer preaching to us and now look at them! After illegally going on a bender, they were going to go to a hospital to put lives at risk!'. 

Today, all Sky staff were summoned to a meeting at 1pm, with one source telling Guido Fawkes: 'I think the big bosses would be mistaken if they think this is something everyone's going to shrug off.'

Last night with her future at Sky mired in uncertainty, 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, saying: '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.'

But it is understood that Miss Burley – a bedrock of Sky since its creation 32 years ago – and the others who attended the dinner have been taken off air while an internal inquiry is carried out into whether celebrations were 'Covid compliant'. 

A friend of a member of the group, also including Ms Rigby, Mr Rashid and Ms Washington, said everyone was 'pretty devastated' by their treatment as some had worked for the channel for many years.

But there also appears to be some anger amongst colleagues about the decision to party during strict national tier restrictions when being asked to hold ministers to account on screen over their handling of the crisis.

As Miss Burley appeared to be fighting for her Sky News career, it also emerged: 

a group of people posing for the camera: Kay Burley looks set to be off air until next year and other Sky stars at the event including Beth Rigby (pictured together) have also been taken off presenting duties pending an investigation

Kay Burley looks set to be off air until next year and other Sky stars at the event including Beth Rigby (pictured together) have also been taken off presenting duties pending an investigation
© Provided by Daily Mail

Critics have also blasted Beth Rigby, who was sent by Sky to grill Dominic Cummings after he flouted lockdown rules to go to Barnard Castle in May during the infamous press conference in the Downing Street garden. Ms Burley also tore into cabinet minister Michael Gove after he defended Mr Cummings. 

According to the 'i' newspaper, Sky's bosses dragged Kay out to the Osterley officers for a grilling yesterday morning where she is believed to have met head of news John Riley, director of content Christina Nicoletti Squires.

A source close to Miss Burley admitted she 'doesn't have a leg to stand on'.

Kay Burley and her close friend, Sky's political editor Beth Rigby, attended a birthday dinner with eight other friends and colleagues at Soho's Century Club restaurant. These reportedly included North of England correspondent Inzamam Rashid and presenter Sam Washington. 

Ex-royal correspondent Paul Harrison, now a spin doctor for Huawei, was also said to be at the dinner, but the identities of the five others have not been revealed.

Miss Burley later 'popped' in to another restaurant after the 11pm curfew. It was claimed some of the group then returned to her London home to continue the party.   Miss Burley later issued an apology for what she described as an 'error in judgement'.

Late last night, Miss Burley tweeted that she was always due to be on annual leave in Africa from the end of this week, saying: '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.'

That means she is unlikely to be on TV screens until next year, and leaves her future at Sky mired in uncertainty.

After hosting the dinner for ten on Saturday, Miss Burley 'popped' in to another restaurant after the 11pm curfew. Sky colleague Inzamam Rashid also attended the dinner, during which the group spread out across two tables. He appeared to have further breached Covid rules by travelling from his home in Manchester, in Tier Three, to the restaurant in Tier Two.

Upon leaving the venue, Miss Burley went to Folie restaurant, which was half a mile away, to 'spend a penny' while she waited for a taxi. It is understood she then returned to her London home to continue the party with four colleagues, thought to have included Mr Rashid and ex-royal correspondent Paul Harrison but not Miss Rigby, who left after the meal. Under Tier Two regulations, you are not permitted to mix inside your own home with people not from your household. You are also not allowed to eat inside a restaurant with anyone outside your household. Groups from different households can dine on outside terraces and in al fresco areas. The Century Club has a heated outdoor roof terrace. Miss Burley wrote on Twitter after the news broke: 'I want to apologise to you all for an error of judgement.

'On Saturday, night I was enjoying my 60th birthday at a Covid-compliant restaurant. I am embarrassed to say 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 in to another restaurant to spend a penny.' She is subject to an internal review, Sky confirmed.A spokesman denied anyone had been suspended and said: 'A small number of Sky News staff may have engaged in activity that breached the guidelines.'

a woman holding a blue umbrella: Bosses hooked the Sky News presenter at the 11th hour last night,after she admitted 'inadvertently' breaching Tier 2 restrictions while celebrating her 60th birthday over the weekend - which was reportedly attended by political editor Beth Rigby (pictured here hugging Kay Burley) © Provided by Daily Mail Bosses hooked the Sky News presenter at the 11th hour last night,after she admitted 'inadvertently' breaching Tier 2 restrictions while celebrating her 60th birthday over the weekend - which was reportedly attended by political editor Beth Rigby (pictured here hugging Kay Burley) map: Kay claims she used a toilet at 11pm in a different restaurant while waiting for a taxi and then took a taxi to her home with friends © Provided by Daily Mail Kay claims she used a toilet at 11pm in a different restaurant while waiting for a taxi and then took a taxi to her home with friends

Back in May, Miss Burley grilled minister Michael Gove on No10 aide Dominic Cummings's car journey from London to Durham. She also questioned Matt Hancock on Professor Neil Ferguson's breach of restrictions to visit his girlfriend. 

A spokesman for Folie said Miss Burley popped in to pay a bill from a recent food delivery and went to the toilet.

Ms Burley is understood to have blamed the situation on 'misunderstandings' in planning and organising the event, the Guardian reports.  

However, she has not addressed why people returned to her home after the dinner – a claim not thought to be in dispute. 

All of the Sky staff who 'may' have been involved are now facing a review of their conduct by their employer, which said it was 'disappointed' by the incident. 

Ms Hewson announced on Twitter that she would be presenting the morning Sky News slot shortly after Ms Burley's apology. 

While hosting Ms Burley's usual news programme, Ms Hewson discussed the roll out of the coronavirus vaccine and Brexit with Health Secretary Matt Hancock. 

A spokesperson for Sky said: 'We place the highest importance on complying with the government guidelines on COVID, and we expect all our people to comply.

'We were disappointed to learn that a small number of Sky News staff may have engaged in activity that breached the guidelines.

'Although this took place at a social event in personal time, we expect all our people to follow the rules that are in place for everyone.

'An internal process is underway to review the conduct of the people involved.'

Under Tier 2 restrictions, households are not allowed to gather indoors unless a one-person household forms a support bubble with another – but outdoor gatherings of six people are permitted. 

Ms Burley has interrogated politicians for their perceived defence of breaches of shutdown restrictions by government officials. 

After Neil Ferguson was forced to resign from the Government for flouting rules to enjoy secret trysts with his lover, she asked Matt Hancock: 'What did you think when you read it? Did you bang your head on the desk?'

In May, Ms Burley interrogated Michael Gove over his defence of Dominic Cummings' lockdown-flouting trip to Barnard Castle. 

She also chastised Prime Minister Boris Johnson for not social distancing on Twitter.

Kay Burley wearing a dress: Sky News broadcaster Kay Burley

Sky News broadcaster Kay Burley
© Provided by Daily Mail

About a picture of Johnson with Conservative MP for Ashfield Lee Anderson, who later tested positive for Covid resulting in the PM having to self-isolate, she wrote: 'Doesn't look like two shopping trolleys apart to me.' 

Last night, the Sky News broadcaster told her 517,000 followers on Twitter that she was 'embarrassed' by her behaviour, which she described as an 'error of judgment'.    

She said: '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.' 

It comes after it emerged pop star Rita Ora did not self-isolate for 14 days after flying to Egypt for an event. 

Rita Ora standing in front of a stage: Rita Ora flew by private jet to Cairo on November 21 to perform at the five-star W Hotel. She returned the next day and under Government quarantine rules should have self-isolated for 14 days © Provided by Daily Mail Rita Ora flew by private jet to Cairo on November 21 to perform at the five-star W Hotel. She returned the next day and under Government quarantine rules should have self-isolated for 14 days a woman standing in front of a window: Instead, she threw a birthday party on November 28 at the exclusive Casa Cruz restaurant in Notting Hill, West London, pictured © Provided by Daily Mail Instead, she threw a birthday party on November 28 at the exclusive Casa Cruz restaurant in Notting Hill, West London, pictured

The 30-year-old singer flew by private jet to Cairo on November 21 to perform at the five-star W Hotel. She returned the next day and under Government quarantine rules should have self-isolated for 14 days. 

Instead, she threw a birthday party on November 28 at the exclusive Casa Cruz restaurant in Notting Hill, west London. 

Ms Ora was forced to apologise last week after she and around 30 guests were photographed at the event before the end of the second national lockdown on Wednesday.

Cara and Poppy Delevingne as well as TOWIE star Vas Morgan, 31, and Rita's sister Elena, 32, were all seen at the venue. 

While the singer said she was 'deeply sorry' for her actions and offered to pay a £10,000 fine for hosting the party, she did not mention her trip to Egypt or breaking a second set of strict rules. 

Read more
AdChoices
AdChoices

More From Daily Mail

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon