Skinny Guardian

7 December 2020, 22:37 (UTC), 503 words. Archie Bland.

Kay Burley apologises over birthday party that broke coronavirus rules

The Sky News presenter Kay Burley has apologised after she admitted to holding a 60th birthday party that broke Covid regulations on Saturday night.

Burley, who was facing an internal inquiry on Monday night over the incident, went to the Century Club in Soho, London, to mark the occasion in a group of 10 that included Sky colleagues Beth Rigby, Inzamam Rashid and Sam Washington.

The group sat at two tables, of six and four, before going on to a nearby restaurant, Folie. A smaller group of four then returned to Burley’s home to continue the celebrations.

All of the Sky staff are now facing a review of their conduct by their employer, which said it was “disappointed” by the incident.

On Monday evening, after the Guido Fawkes website published the story, Burley – who has held a series of politicians’ feet to the fire over lockdown rules this year – admitted to breaking tier 2 restrictions, tweeting: “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 is understood to have blamed the situation on misunderstandings in planning and organising the event. But she did not address why a group of four people, including Rashid and former Sky News royal correspondent and Huawei PR executive Paul Harrison, returned to her home after the dinner, a claim that is not believed to be in dispute. Other Sky News staff are understood to be irritated by details of the event.

Burley has been a stern interrogator of politicians who have been perceived as making excuses over lockdown breaches this year.

In May, she conducted a widely shared interview with cabinet minister Michael Gove about the Dominic Cummings affair, repeatedly asking him to clarify what the government advice would be for a member of the public “struggling with Covid-19 and you think you’ve got a problem with your eyesight”, in reference to Cummings’ explanation of his trip to Barnard Castle.

She also interviewed the health secretary, Matt Hancock, after Prof Neil Ferguson was forced to resign as a government adviser and asked: “What did you think when you read it? Did you bang your head on the desk?”

A Sky News spokesperson 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 under way to review the conduct of the people involved.”