Kay Burley has said that it was always her intention to take a pre-planned trip to “my beloved Africa” amid speculation over whether she will return to Sky News in the coming weeks after she admitted breaching coronavirus restrictions.
The 59-year-old journalist – who has held multiple politicians’ feet to the fire over coronavirus rules – is facing an internal inquiry into her actions on Saturday night, when she reportedly celebrated her 60th birthday with a group of nine friends and colleagues in a London restaurant, sitting at tables of four and six.
A group of four are reported to have gone back to Ms Burley’s own home to continue the party – an accusation Ms Burley has not yet addressed.
The veteran presenter has apologised for what she described as “an error of judgement”, admitting that she had inadvertently broken the rules “later in the evening” by “briefly [popping] into another restaurant to spend a penny” while waiting for a taxi home.
She was not on-air on Tuesday, when the show was presented by Sarah Hewson.
Ms Burley appeared to address speculation over whether she would return to work before 2021 as she shared footage from a safari to Twitter on Wednesday evening.
The footage was captioned: “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.”
Ms Burley had previously written: “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.”
Ms Burley, who presents a daily breakfast show on Sky News, has grilled several politicians on the apparent contradictions of lockdown rules, and on Boris Johnson’s former chief political aide Dominic Cummings’ Durham jaunts.
Pressing housing secretary Robert Jenrick in October on the issue of politicians breaching coronavirus regulations, Ms Burley had said: “The point I’m making, is that everybody at home is screaming at the telly saying, ‘it’s one rule for us, and it’s one rule for them’. And you’re falling into that trap, collectively.”
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.”
Additional reporting by PA
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