The Sun has found itself sucked further into the ongoing scandal surrounding law-breaking festivities during the Covid-19 lockdowns with an apology from deputy editor James Slack over a night at No. 10.
The paper had already taken heat in recent months for an alleged lockdown-breaking party that took place at its London headquarters in December 2020.
Now The Telegraph has revealed that the paper’s current deputy editor James Slack was at the centre of a party in 10 Downing Street in April 2021.
The new story holds particular weight because it took place the night before Prince Philip’s funeral – an event which is being universally illustrated with an image of The Queen sat alone in mourning on the pews of St George’s Chapel.
According to The Telegraph, a leaving party was held for Slack at Downing Street on the evening of 16 April 2021. Slack was departing his role in the prime minister’s office for his current role at The Sun.
It was one of two parties occurring in the sprawling Number 10 complex that night, which The Telegraph reports ultimately merged into one in the building’s garden.
Slack has already apologised for the party, saying in a statement: “I wish to apologise unreservedly for the anger and hurt caused. This event should not have happened at the time that it did. I am deeply sorry, and take full responsibility.”
Like many other figures who have found themselves at Downing Street’s recent booze-fuelled work engagements, Slack will not be commenting further until the conclusion of civil servant Sue Gray’s inquiry into lockdown-breaking parties.
Former Sun editor David Yelland tweeted last night that Slack “needs to clarify or resign as deputy editor of The Sun. How on earth can he have kept this out of the paper?”
Private Eye has repeatedly published allegations relating to a lockdown-breaking party in December 2020 claimed to have occurred in the offices of The Sun itself, frequently drawing parallels between festivities at News UK towers and a Number 10 party which the Mirror reported occurred the same evening.
According to the Eye: “Senior executives carted booze and food into the office at the end of the day – exactly as in Downing Street. Just as in Downing Street, senior members of staff (such as managing editor Victoria Watson and head of content Steve Kennedy) were present and enthusiastically involved in the revelries.”
Asked about the December 2020 bash by the BBC the following year, Sun editor Victoria Newton said “There was an investigation into that at the time, that’s all I’m prepared to say”.
Asked for further details, a Sun spokesperson told Press Gazette: “The matter was investigated as soon as it came to light and appropriate action was taken as a result.”
The paper declined to reveal the outcome of the investigation. Private Eye previously reported that the inquiry concluded “that so long as comment was limited to the pages of the Eye and gossip mailout Popbitch, no further disciplinary action was necessary.”
The Telegraph’s scoop is a particular blow to Boris Johnson, who previously wrote for the paper as a headline columnist and has tended to enjoy its support.
Before his tenure on Downing Street Slack had been political editor of the Daily Mail, where his byline appeared on the famous “Enemies of the People” cover slamming judges who ruled the government could not unilaterally trigger Article 50.
Pictures: PA, Reuters
Email email@example.com to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog