Who is James Slack? Sheffield journalist at centre of latest Downing Street party revelations as Boris Johnson urged to resign

A Sheffield man is at the centre of the latest Downing Street ‘party’ revelations – with claims a gathering was held in his honour at Number 10 when household mixing was restricted due to Covid-19.

By Claire Lewis
Friday, 14th January 2022, 9:56 am

Pressure is now mounting on Prime Minister Boris Johnson amid fresh allegations that two Downing Street events were held the night before the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral last April at a time when household mixing was banned in a bid to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

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The Telegraph has reported that advisers and civil servants gathered after work for two separate events on April 16 2021.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under pressure over Downing Street parties. Photo: Getty Images

They were to mark the departures of James Slack, originally from Sheffield, who was Mr Johnson's former director of communications, and one of the PM's personal photographers, the newspaper said.

The Telegraph cited a No 10 spokesperson as saying Mr Johnson was not in Downing Street that day.

It reported accounts from witnesses who said alcohol was drunk and guests danced to music.

The two events are said to have started separately and later merged.

The events were reportedly held in April last year, while the country was in a period of national mourning, it was reported.

The Queen attended the funeral of Prince Philip, her husband of 74 years, wearing a face mark and socially distanced from her family at Windsor Castle in line with Covid restrictions, the following day.

WHO IS JAMES SLACK?

Mr Slack trained as a journalist in Sheffield at the former Stradbroke College.

He started his career as a reporter for the Mansfield Chad newspaper in 1996 and after two years moved to the Nottingham Evening Post, becoming a political reporter.

He went on to work for a press agency in London, covering stories for numerous news organisations, before going on to be a home affairs reporter at the Daily Express, then covering crime stories as a home affairs reporter at the Daily Mail.

He became political editor of the newspaper in October 2015.

In 2017 he was appointed as a press secretary to then Prime Minster Theresa May and remained in his role when Boris Johnson came to power before becoming his director of communications.

A Downing Street spokesperson confirmed Mr Slack “gave a farewell speech” to thank colleagues ahead of taking up his new role at The Sun.

“On this individual's last day he gave a farewell speech to thank each team for the work they had done to support him, both those who had to be in the office for work and on a screen for those working from home,” the spokesperson said.

An inquiry into alleged lockdown-busting events at Downing Street was already underway before the latest revelations.

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister apologised for attending a ‘bring your own booze’ party in the Downing Street garden in May 2020, during the first coronavirus lockdown, but insisted he believed it was a work event and could ‘technically’ have been within the rules.

Sir Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, has called for the Prime Minister to resign.

“The Queen sitting alone, mourning the loss of her husband, was the defining image of lockdown. Not because she is the Queen, but because she was just another person, mourning alone like too many others.

“Whilst she mourned, Number 10 partied. Johnson must go,” he said.

His comments were echoed by Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner, who wrote on Twitter: “The Queen sat alone in mourning like so many did at the time with personal trauma and sacrifice to keep to the rules in the national interest.

“I have no words for the culture and behaviours at number 10 and the buck stops with the PM.”