Partygate: Fines issued over Downing Street leaving do for former Chad journalist on night before Prince Philip's funeral

Police have fined Government staff over a leaving do held in honour of a former Chad reporter the night before Prince Philip’s funeral.
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The gathering on April 16, 2021, was a seeing-off party for No 10 director of communications James Slack, who is now the deputy editor of The Sun.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson did not attend the gathering, and has so far not been issued with a fine.

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The 20 fixed penalty notices issued since Friday (April 1) are reportedly the first batch issued by police.

Former Chad journalist James SlackFormer Chad journalist James Slack
Former Chad journalist James Slack

The Met Police has refused to identify any of the recipients, who would only be revealed if they challenge the fine in court.

The fines come after police were handed information about a number of events attended by Government workers while Coronavirus restrictions were still in place.

An internal enquiry into the events was carried out by senior civil servant Sue Gray, which was completed in January.

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Government advisers and civil servants gathered after work for two separate events on April 16, 2021.

They were to mark the departures of James Slack, who was Mr Johnson's former director of communications, and one of the PM's personal photographers.

They happened while the country was in a period of national mourning following the death of Prince Phillip, and were held on the night before his funeral.

Critics have contrasted the restrictions-flaunting behaviour against a picture taken of the Queen sitting alone, wearing a face mask, during the funeral the next day for her husband of 74 years.

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Mr Slack trained as a journalist in Sheffield at Stradbroke College.

He started his career as a reporter for the Mansfield Chad newspaper in 1996 and after two years moved to the Nottingham Evening Post, becoming a political reporter.

He went 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 became political editor of the newspaper in October 2015.

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In 2017 he was appointed as a press secretary to then Prime Minster Theresa May and remained in his role when Boris Johnson came to power before becoming his director of communications.

In January, a Downing Street spokesperson confirmed Mr Slack “gave a farewell speech” to thank colleagues ahead of taking up his new role at The Sun.

“On this individual's last day he gave a farewell speech to thank each team for the work they had done to support him, both those who had to be in the office for work and on a screen for those working from home,” the spokesperson said.

In January, figures across the political spectrum called for Boris Johnson and senior Government officials to resign after the lockdown-busting events at Downing Street came to light and was dubbed ‘Partygate’.

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The Prime Minister is known to have attended three events: a ‘bring your own booze’ event on May 20, 2020, in the Downing Street garden; a gathering on June 19, 2020, in the Cabinet Room for his own birthday; and on November 13, 2020, on the departure of a special advisor.

Sue Gray’s report criticised "failures of leadership and judgement" over the gatherings.

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