This week, Sky News presenter Kay Burley was cleared by Ofcom and a full investigation will not be launched into her interview with Nick Varney regarding the crash at Alton Towers. Ofcom concluded that the news anchor had done nothing wrong in the way the interview was conducted, but over 1500 people had complained to the regulator. This begs the question, should she be sacked for the unprofessional way in which she conducted the interview or will this set a precedent which will allow interviewers and writers to continue this invasive and aggressive way of journalism?
People became distressed at the interview as many believed Kay Burley was being too aggressive in her questioning over the crash; 16 people were injured on the Smiler ride at Alton towers, 4 of whom were seriously injured on 2nd June. At the time of the interview there was a rumour that one of the seriously injured had had to have a leg amputated as a result of the crash, but no formal comment had been made.
Burley said during the interview that “people were seriously injured, and there are suggestions that someone’s lost a limb as a result of what happened at Alton Towers,” she said. “Has somebody lost a limb on that ride?” When Varney said that Merlin Entertainment was “deeply sorry” for the accident and that he could not disclose this personal information, Burley retorted saying that she was “sure [the family] are not interested in your sympathy at this stage.” Burley was completely unrepentant after the interview took place. As an interviewer, she admittedly needs to get answers to questions and prevent the interviewee from skirting around it, but medical information should be confidential to the patient and family. She should not have tried to pry this information from him on more than one occasion because he is not in a position to give that information.
Over 55,000 people have now signed a Change.org petition calling for Burley to be sacked and this is not the first time she has received complaints. Earlier this year, in a heated interview with Cerie Bullivant of a human rights advocacy group, Burley told the contributor to “get over yourself” after he accused her of Islamophobia, which was not investigated by media regulator Ofcom. The interviewee walked out of the interview after Burley repeatedly asked him how he felt about the beheading of western hostages by Isis. This kind of ‘interviewing’ should not be condoned by the regulator and Burley should be disciplined for the unprofessional manner in which she conducts her interviews.