Boris Johnson's ex-spokesman apologises over Downing Street party on eve of Philip's funeral

The PM’s former Official Spokesman and Director of Communications said the party “should not have happened at the time that it did”

The Prime Minister's former Official Spokesman James Slack in Downing Street in 2020
The Prime Minister’s former Official Spokesman James Slack in Downing Street in 2020

Boris Johnson’s former spokesman has apologised after it emerged he attended a leaving in his honour the night before Prince Philip’s socially-distanced funeral.

Spin doctor James Slack issued a shamefaced statement over a party held to mark his leaving Downing Street in April 2021.

Mr Slack, now a senior executive at The Sun newspaper, said: “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.”

He said he could not comment further as the matter had been referred to Sue Gray’s ever-growing investigation into more than half a dozen parties.

Security Minister Damian Hinds said the new revelations will “absolutely” be part of the top civil servant’s report.

The party was one of two alleged to have been held in Downing Street on April 16, hours before the Queen sat alone at her husband’s memorial.

The other is said to have been a leaving do for a photographer that involved a DJ in the basement of No10 – and a staff member being dispatched to the local Co-Op to fill a suitcase with wine.

The Queen sat alone to say goodbye to her husband but hours before, it is claimed parties were going at at Downing Street


Getty Images)

It happened hours before the Queen followed strict coronavirus rules and sat alone at St George’s Chapel, Windsor in tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh. The PM was reportedly not in No10 at the time.

But his staff were said to have held two different events inside the Downing Street complex – despite the Government’s guidance at the time warning: “You must not socialise indoors except with your household or support bubble.

“You can meet outdoors, including in gardens, in groups of six people or two households.”

Mr Slack is said to have given a speech at one of the bashes, before they later merged and spilt out into the No10 garden.

Tory minister Damian Hinds said he was “shocked, I was shocked” to read the story, adding: “The whole nation shared with Her Majesty in her warning.”

He told Sky News the story had only just come out in the press, and “clearly I wasn’t there and I don’t know first hand otherwise”.

But he added: “If the details that are in this story turn out to be true, clearly people are going to form their judgement.”

Asked if there was a “culture of rule-breaking” in government, he answered hesitatingly: “No, I do not believe that to be the case.”

This breaking news story is being updated.


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