Boris Johnson’s former communications director apologised “unreservedly” on Friday for last year’s Downing Street party that breached the lockdown
James Slack says his April 2021 departure party “should not have happened at the time”.
“I wish to apologise unreservedly for the anger and hurt caused,” Slack said in a statement.
“I am deeply sorry and take full responsibility,” added Slack, who left the government last year and is now deputy editor-in-chief of the tabloid The Sun.
According to The Daily Telegraph, Johnson allegedly did not attend the departure party. This week, the Prime Minister apologised for travelling to Downing Street Gardens, his office and another gathering at his home in May 2020 when the UK was in strict lockdown.
The latest party has stunned many in the UK because of the symbolism of its time – April 16, 2021, the night before the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, Prince Philip.
The Daily Telegraph said Downing Street staff drank, danced and socialised as they left a party for Slack and another staff member on April 16 last year. The widowed queen sat alone in church at her husband’s funeral the next day to comply with social distancing rules that prohibit indoor mixing.
The picture of the monarch in black and wearing a mask became a powerful image of the isolation and sacrifice that many have endured during the pandemic.
Johnson admitted on Wednesday that he attended a “bring your own drink” staff party in the garden of his Downing Street office in May 2020, with members of Johnson’s Conservative government expressing support for him.
At the time, Britons were banned by law from meeting people outside their family members as part of measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Millions have been cut off from family and friends and even barred from visiting dying relatives in hospitals.
The latest revelations could prompt more Conservatives to join opponents and call for Johnson’s resignation for ignoring government-imposed rules on the country as coronavirus engulfs the country
Johnson said he understood the public’s “outrage” but did not admit wrongdoing and said he had viewed the gathering as a work event to thank staff for their efforts during the pandemic.
Johnson urged people to wait for the conclusion of senior public servant Sue Gray’s investigation into multiple political parties’ alleged rule-breaking by government workers during the pandemic. Gray, a public official known as a straight shooter, is expected to report by the end of the month.