Kay Burley is the no-nonsense news viper who relishes holding MPs to account – but has not been without her own share of controversy in a broadcast career spanning more than three decades.
The ambitious anchor has risen up through the ranks of the broadcasting world and boasts ‘more hours of live TV than anyone else’, but regularly divides opinion with her forthright attacks on politicians.
The 59-year-old seldom talks about her personal life though did once admit she had ‘two successful marriages’ – but ‘hated being married’.
From left: Tony Blackburn, Peter Marshall, Derek Jameson, Andrew Neil, Alastair Yates, Rupert Murdoch, Penny Smith, Bob Friends, Kay Burley during the launch of Sky TV on February 5, 1989
By her early 20s, Miss Burley had already divorced her first husband, Steve Burley, whom she met aged 17, on a local newspaper in Wigan, and married when she was 19.
She moved to Sky when she was 28 and, three years later, met her second husband, football agent Steve Kutner.
By the age of 32 she was pregnant with their son, Alexander, but the pair split when he was one.
The mother and son remain close and in her Twitter bio she describes herself as, ‘Sky News founder member. Animal lover. Mountain climber. Impossibly proud mum.’
She had a relationship with former Political Editor of The Sun newspaper, George Pascoe-Watson for five-and-a-half years but they separated shortly after he left newspapers for a job in PR in 2009.
In December 2017 Miss Burley was joined at Piers Morgan’s birthday bash by her date for the night, British Airways pilot Jonny Knowlson, with whom she was spotted enjoying a night out at the Tate Modern two months earlier.
In 2008, Miss Burley clashed with a photographer during the scrum outside a London court ahead of a case involving Naomi Campbell
Jonny, who at the age of 30 was 27 years Kay’s junior, met the newsreader when she employed the help of four ‘strong, capable’ British Airways pilots to help her overcome her fear of flying earlier that year.
In 2011 Miss Burley turned her hand to writing fiction, publishing her debut novel First Ladies; ‘ an irresistible cross between The Thick Of It and Jilly Cooper’ in which ‘the glamorous worlds of glossy magazines, TV and politics are laid bare’.
In an article for the Daily Mail last year, Burley said it was ‘nonsense that wrinkles are a better look for a mature woman’ as she spoke about how she’d treated herMiss self to a facelift for her 50th birthday.
She admitted to ‘dabbling’ with Botox and fillers, as well as having a lower facelift, brow lift and bags removed from under her eyes.
The fracas happened as they waited for supermodel Naomi Campbell to arrive to face charges for assaulting airport police
She added: ‘Women, especially those in the public eye, are always more harshly judged than their male counterparts.’
The 59-year-old was born to parents Kath and Frank in Wigan, Lancashire at the start of the Swinging Sixties and has often praised her late parents for giving her an upbringing ‘full of love.’
She said the family had no money but her parents were ‘amazing.’
Miss Burley began her journalism career at the Lancashire Evening Post and Chronicle, aged 17 before moving into broadcast as a reporter on Granada Reports in 1981 as a researcher for Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan.
By 1985 she’d been offered a reporting job at TV-am before moving to Rupert Murdoch’s Sky in 1988 where she was at the helm of the fledgling Sky News.
Kay Burley presents to camera outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital on July 22, 2013 ahead of the birth of Prince George
Miss Burley quickly moved up the ranks to become its leading reporter, breaking the news of Princess Diana’s death in 1997 and was live on air in 2001 when the Twin Towers in New York were attacked.
The 9/11 coverage earned her a Bafta, which she ‘keeps in the loo’.
She was handed a plum new gig in September 2018 when she was given her own show in her name, which 12 months later moved to the prime time morning slot and was rebranded Kay Burley @ Breakfast.
The agenda-setting gig – set up at the crux of Britain’s Brexit negotiations and the general election – is filmed live in Westminster and sees Miss Burley joined by a host of politicians and critics.
Last year Miss Burley admitted she ‘found it difficult to resist’ being ‘sucked in by the aura’ and charisma of political figureheads including Boris Johnson, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair.
But sitting in the hotseat at Sky has led to Miss Burley accused of her fair share of controversies.
Then-Prime Minister David Cameron meets Miss Burley during a reception to celebrate the achievements of women in the media at 10 Downing St on May 16, 2013
In 2008, Miss Burley clashed with a photographer during the scrum outside a London court as they waited for supermodel Naomi Campbell to arrive to face charges for assaulting airport police.
The newscaster was apparently hit in the cheek by a camera – and was then seen with her hand around a photographer’s throat.
The bust-up happened as 100 journalists fought to get a view of the model at Uxbridge Magistrates Court in North-West London.
There were suggestions that the photographer, Kirsty Wigglesworth from the Associated Press agency, had bumped into Miss Burley.
The same year, Miss Burley was deluged with criticism when she asked the wife of Suffolk serial killer Steve Wright, ‘Do you think if you’d had a better sex life he wouldn’t have done this?’
Miss Burley admitted she ‘found it difficult to resist’ being ‘sucked in by the aura’ and charisma of political figureheads including Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and Boris Johnson (pictured together here in 2019)
In 2010, she had to apologise for joking that Catholic US Vice President Joe Biden, who had ashes on his forehead to mark Ash Wednesday, had a ‘bruise’ that he’d picked up from ‘walking into a door’.
Labour MP Chris Bryant later told her, ‘You seem to be a bit dim, if you don’t mind me saying.’
Miss Burley hit back: ‘That’s the first time anyone’s said on TV that I’m dim and it was water off a duck’s back. There’s a photo of Chris Bryant on the internet in his underpants that he took for a gay website. One can judge who’s the most dim.’
In September 2019, she had an awkward stand-off with Brexit Party MEP Lucy Harris when she was accused of not being impartial and of having voted Remain. The conversation turned heated when Miss Burley accused Ms Harris of being over-the-top by saying Remainers wanted 15 referendums until they got the result they wanted.
Just two months later, Miss Burley provoked a slew of Ofcom complaints after she was accused of a ‘cheap stunt’ for empty-chairing Tory chairman James Cleverly on her show.
In 2011 Burley turned her hand to writing fiction, publishing her debut novel First Ladies; ‘ an irresistible cross between The Thick Of It and Jilly Cooper’ in which ‘the glamorous worlds of glossy magazines, TV and politics are laid bare’
Miss Burley showed an empty chair and claimed that Mr Cleverly had refused to appear – but he insisted he had not agreed an interview with her and was in the process of another interview.
The presenter repeatedly showed the empty chair and reeled off a series of questions which she had intended to ask him, sparking a raft of complaints from viewers.
At the height of the pandemic, Miss Burley tore into cabinet minister Michael Gove after he appeared on Sky News to defend Dominic Cummings for breaking coronavirus restrictions.
She added: ‘What people see here is that there’s one rule for you… and another rule for them.’