BETH Rigby and Inzamam Rashid have been taken off the air for three months today by Sky News for Covid breaches at Kay Burley's 60th birthday party.
Burley was caught hosting an illegal party in Soho, London, in a clear breach of the government's rule of six.
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Her and nine friends – including Sky colleagues Rigby, Rashid and Sam Washington – partied at the Century Club.
A group then carried onto a private restaurant, Folie, before four went back to Kay’s West London home.
Rigby later added it was "wrong" for her to attend the event and said she made a "huge error of judgement".
She told colleagues: "I just wanted to write to you all to tell you how sorry I am for what I’ve done in recent days and let you know it will never happen again.
"It was wrong of me to attend the dinner event, and it was wrong of me to hug Kay Burley goodbye as I was leaving to go home.
"I’ve covered the guidelines throughout the pandemic and I should have known better.
"Everyone is making sacrifices and is restricted in many ways right now and mine was a huge error of judgement.
"You will know how proud I am to work for Sky News. I also want you to know how sorry I am that I let you all down as well as our viewers whom we’re here to serve.
"I will use this time to reflect on all of this and then come back ready to work with you all again in the new year. My best wishes, Beth."
Rashid added that he feels "awful" and told colleagues he owes them "all an apology".
He said: "I owe you all an apology. I made a mistake and I feel awful for how my actions might reflect on Sky News and the amazing people who work here.
"What hurts the most is that I've seen the hard work, the sacrifice and the very best from everyone during the most challenging of years.
"It's been a horrendous year for the country and for Sky News there has been huge pressure to tell a global story all the while mixed with the personal sacrifices and hardship you have all had to contend with.
"I let you down and I want you to know I'm very sorry and it will not happen again.
"As you know by now, I'll be away for a short period, but I cannot wait to get back to work with you all."
Burley, 59, has today agreed to be "off air" for six months – adding that she "was wrong" and "made a big mistake".
Rigby and Rashid have agreed to be off air for three months. Sam has not been punished and will return to the air next week.
Kay said: "I have today agreed with Sky News to step back from my broadcasting role for a period of reflection.
"It's clear to me that we are all in the fight against Covid-19 and that we all have a duty to stick firmly by the rules.
"It doesn't matter that I thought I was Covid-compliant on a recent social event. 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.
"I was one of the founding presenters on Sky News. No one is prouder of our channel's reputation, the professionals on our team, and the
impact we make.
"I very much look forward to being able to continue my 32-year career with Sky when I return."
The dramatic announcment was made live on Sky at 4.15pm today.
Sky News said Covid-19 guilelines were breached by some team members.
Its statement read: "Sky News has completed an internal review into the conduct of a small number of team members who attended a social event on the evening of December 5.
"Over the course of the evening, COVID guidelines were breached. Sky News expects all team members to fully comply with the COVID restrictions. All those involved regret the incident and have apologised.
"Following our review of what took place on December 5, we have agreed with Beth Rigby (Political Editor) and Inzamam Rashid (News Correspondent) that they will not be on air for three months.
"We have agreed with Kay Burley (Breakfast Show Presenter) that she will not be on air for six months."
Kay's colleague Adam Boulton says the scandal surrounding her rule-breaking party raised concerns over “the credibility" of his station's work.
The respected TV journalist had retweeted a furious message from one viewer branding his lockdown-breaking colleagues "morons" who had spent months "preaching" to Brits amid the pandemic.
Speaking to the Guardian, Boulton said his retweets did not necessarily endorse the statements made while adding the party revelations may have undermined Sky's work during the pandemic.
He said: “That said, I retweet things because I think they’re of public interest, and certainly my feed has reflected a lot of people who are very concerned about the credibility of Sky News, and that I think is the important issue: the credibility of our journalism.
“My view is that Sky has worked very hard during the whole Covid crisis and has taken a very clear line about public safety, and obviously something like this perhaps underlines [the importance of] that.”
Earlier this week, Burley was supposed to be fronting the channel’s coverage of the first Covid-19 vaccination in Coventry but was stood down at the eleventh hour.
She was immediately pulled off air and was told to take annual leave. It was initially thought she wouldn’t be back on air until 2021.
A Sky source said: “The Sky News bosses were absolutely furious at Kay.
“She should know better and they told her as such. They’ve told her she’s off-air for the foreseeable. It looks like it will be 2021 before she’s back.
“The others involved have also been warned about their behaviour. Beth, Inzy and Sam have all had tickings off too but none more so than Kay.”
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