Boris Johnson's new communications director on how job at Mansfield Chad helped prepare him for Number 10

A former Mansfield Chad reporter who is now Boris Johnson’s communications director says his time at the paper helped prepare him for his Downing Street role.

By Dale Spridgeon
Monday, 23rd November 2020, 12:30 pm

James Slack, who is originally from Sheffield, has replaced Lee Cain who quit Number 10 earlier this month, amid highly publicised in-fighting.

James started his news career at the Mansfield newspaper at the end of 1996.

He is 46, married to Emma, and has three children, and now lives in London.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

James Slack (left) the new communications director for Prime Minister Boris Johnson

He studied journalism at the NCTJ centre at Stradbroke College, in Sheffield, before starting his career in journalism under the editorship of Jeremy Plews.

After two years learning his craft at the Mansfield Chad, he went on to work for a further two years at the Nottingham Evening Post, becoming a political reporter.

He would go 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 would become a leader columnist and political editor of the newspaper, in October 2015.

In 2017, as a civil servant and lobby journalist, he would move on to be a press secretary to Prime Minster Theresa May. After she left, he stayed on in his role as Boris Johnson came to power. He is now director of communications to Mr Johnson.

James told the Chad: “I have great fondness for my time spent in Mansfield working at the Mansfield Chad. I learned so much there under the steady hand of former editor Jeremy Plews.

"He was a legendary editor, from the old school of news journalism. I loved every minute there and in my news career, and I will always remember those times. It was proper community journalism back then. Jeremy would send us out knocking on doors, doing the death knocks, as we called them, and I think that shapes you as a journalist, it prepares you for anything.

“I would cover the political stories at Mansfield District, politically it was very different that it is now. Working in Mansfield for the Chad really did give me the skills I needed to go on in my career and the confidence and ability to do what I am doing now.

"Working for Boris is great, he is absolutely the same in public as he is in private. He is a very straightforward guy, very determined, and he has taken an interest in Mansfield and is keen for the creation of high tech jobs there.

“He wrote an article in the Financial Times recently, where he talked about Mansfield recently, being among other areas, now synonymous with green technology and jobs, which I was very pleased about, that Mansfield got a mention.

“The work I do now can be hard, it can be tiring, it’s been a difficult time with a lot to deal with, what with Brexit and now Coronavirus, but the time I spent at the Mansfield Chad definitely gave me an excellent grounding to be able to do the work I do now.”