James Slack: the Sun deputy editor in latest No 10 party scandal

James Slack: the Sun deputy editor in latest No 10 party scandal..  When James Slack quit as Boris Johnson’s director of communications to become deputy editor-in-chief of the Sun, he might have hoped to avoid the glare of the media.

James Slack: the Sun deputy editor in latest No 10 party scandal
James Slack: the Sun deputy editor in latest No 10 party scandal—-

But now Johnson’s former communications director finds himself as headline news, at the centre of a political scandal which highlights the revolving door between Britain’s political and media elite.

Slack’s leaving do at Downing Street, complete with allegations of staff dragging a suitcase of booze into No 10 as lockdown restrictions remained in place, have unleashed further fury.

He has already apologised “unreservedly for the anger and hurt caused” and said the event should not have taken place. The matter has been referred to an ongoing investigation into lockdown-busting parties led by the civil servant Sue Gray, which is due to report next week.

It is also prompting scrutiny of the Sun’s own coverage of the unfolding Downing Street party scandals and raises the awkward question of why they had not broken the news of this No 10 event, given they employ a witness who was present.

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Originally from Sheffield, Slack worked his way up local newspapers in the Midlands before moving to London, where he worked for news agencies and the Daily Express. After joining the Daily Mail, he was appointed as the newspaper’s political editor in 2015.

Slack’s appointment in 2017 as the prime minister’s official spokesperson – responsible for holding daily briefings with lobby journalists – raised eyebrows as it was technically a civil service job, rather than a political appointment. He became part of May’s inner circle and gained a reputation among lobby journalists for being across detail of the endless Brexit negotiations, aided by this closeness.


Slack’s civil service employment contract meant his job was secure when Johnson became prime minister. As a result, he retained his spokesperson job, answering questions on behalf of the man who had caused so much trouble for his former boss.

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He was ultimately promoted to the political appointment of director of communications in early 2021 – only to quit a few months later to join Rupert Murdoch’s Sun, an event that was marked with the now-notorious leaving party.

The Sun has already had to deal with questions about its own staff being involved in boozy lockdown-breaking events. Before Slack joined the newspaper some of its staff held a Christmas party in the newspaper’s office in December 2020. A spokesperson for News UK, the owner of the Sun, said: “The matter was investigated as soon as it came to light and appropriate action was taken as a result.”

On Friday, after issuing his apology, Slack was said to be at work in the Sun’s office in News UK in central London. Colleagues claim that other members of the Sun’s management team were only informed about their deputy editor’s Downing Street leaving party when contacted by the Daily Telegraph on Thursday afternoon. His future now potentially depends on the outcome of Gray’s investigation into No 10 parties during lockdown.

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Victoria Newton, the editor of the Sun, previously said she hired Slack because he knew what issues connected with the tabloid’s readers: “The Sun’s broad readership cares deeply about Britain and James has a strong understanding of our audience.”

The issue the Sun is struggling with today is whether a lockdown-breaking party held in honour of their deputy editor – as the Queen prepared to bury Prince Philip at a socially distanced funeral – is too much for their audience.


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