UK's Sky News broadcaster Kay Burley taken off air for COVID rule breach

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Sky News said its breakfast show anchor Kay Burley would be taken off air for six months after she broke COVID-19 guidelines when she celebrated her 60th birthday with friends and colleagues in London on Saturday evening.

Burley, a founder presenter on the 24-hour news channel set up by Rupert Murdoch nearly 32 years ago who says she has done “more live TV than anyone else”, said she had agreed to step back “for a period of reflection”.

The channel’s political editor Beth Rigby and correspondent Inzamam Rashid, who both attended the event, had agreed to be off air for three months, the broadcaster said on Thursday.

“All those involved regret the incident and have apologised,” Sky News said. “Everyone at Sky News is expected to comply with the rules and the company takes breaches like this very seriously indeed.”

Burley said she had gone to a COVID-compliant restaurant on Saturday for her birthday and had later visited a second restaurant to use the toilet. Newspaper reports said some of her guests had returned to her house in breach of strict rules.

“It doesn’t matter that I thought I was COVID-compliant on a recent social event,” she said in a statement. “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,” she added.

She said she looked forward to returning to the channel which is now owned by U.S. media company Comcast.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Michael Holden