Ex-Johnson aide says sorry for party on eve of royal funeral

Ex-Johnson aide says sorry for party on eve of royal funeral



LONDON (AP) — Boris Johnson’s former communications chief apologized “unreservedly” on Friday for a lockdown-breaching party in Downing Street on the eve of Prince Philip's funeral last year — the latest in a string of allegedly rule-flouting gatherings that are threatening to topple the British prime minister.

Former Downing Street Director of Communications James Slack said his April 2021 job-leaving party “should not have happened at the time that it did.”

“I wish to apologize 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 tabloid newspaper The Sun.

Johnson isn't alleged to have attended the leaving party, disclosed by the Daily Telegraph newspaper. Earlier this week, he apologized for going to an earlier gathering in the garden of Downing Street, his office and home, in May 2020, when the U.K. was under strict lockdown.

The latest party has appalled many in Britain because of the symbolism of its timing — April 16, 2021, the night before the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II’s husband of seven decades.

The Daily Telegraph said Downing Street staff drank, danced and socialized at leaving parties for Slack and another staff member late into the night. The next day, the widowed queen sat alone in the church during her husband’s funeral service at Windsor Castle in order to adhere to social distancing rules that barred indoor mixing.

Photos of the monarch, clad in black and wearing a face mask, became a powerful image of the isolation and sacrifice endured by many during the pandemic.

Members of Johnson’s Conservative government have expressed support for the prime minister following his admission on Wednesday...

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