THE deputy editor of the UK's largest tabloid has been forced to apologise after he admitted taking "full responsibility" for a party held the night before Prince Philip's funeral which marked the journalist's departure from his job at No 10.

James Slack, who is now number two at the Sun, said in a statement this morning that he took “full responsibility” for the party, attended by No 10 aides and officials. 

“I wish to apologise unreservedly for the anger and hurt caused,” he said. “This event should not have happened at the time that it did. I am deeply sorry.”

It is not known if Slack told reporting colleagues or his editor about the party for editorial purposes. The story was broken today by newspaper rival the Telegraph.

His apology has prompted renewed criticism that certain parts of the press have too close a relationship to the UK Government and have dodged their responsibility to hold ministers to account.

Most of the revelations about the parties have been broken by the Sun's main tabloid rival, the Mirror.

Referring to the story in the Telegraph today, the Guardian journalist Owen Jones wrote on Twitter: "An important detail - in terms of collusion between large chunks of the media and the Tory government - is one of the partygoers here was James Slack, then Boris Johnson's director of communications, formerly of the Mail - and now The Sun's deputy editor."

Jones added: "We should be asking searching questions about why all the parties happening in No. 10 have only come out now, because much of the British media knew about them. I mean, one of the people alleged at the parties is deputy editor of one of the biggest newspapers in the country."

He went on: "So far caught up in this scandal: - Allegra Stratton, who went from BBC to ITV to working for government, married to James Forsyth, Spectator political editor, Times columnist. - James Slack, who went from Daily Mail to working for May, then Johnson, then Sun deputy editor.

"There are other journalists, too, who are close to Boris Johnson or specifically to Carrie Johnson. Why does this matter? Because the media is supposed to confront government, not become integrated with it - and it means asking why the tap of scrutiny was suddenly turned on."

READ MORE: 'Cruel' No 10 staff flouted Covid rules to party into the night while the Queen mourned

No 10 has been forced to apologise to the Queen after it emerged that two parties took place in Downing Street on the eve of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral in April last year.

The Prime Minister said that it was “deeply regrettable” that the parties took place but insisted that he did not know about the events at the time.

Revellers spilt wine on the carpets, danced until the early hours and went to a supermarket to fill up a suitcase with alcohol for the parties to mark the departures of Slack, the Prime Minister’s former most senior communications official, and one of the Prime Minister’s photographers.

At the time lockdown restrictions banned any socialising indoors between households.

Only hours after partygoers filed out of Downing Street the Queen was forced to sit alone at her husband’s socially-distanced funeral at Windsor Castle.

A No 10 spokesman said: “It is deeply regrettable that this took place at a time of national mourning. No 10 has apologised to the palace. You’ve heard from the Prime Minister this week. He’s recognised No 10 should be held to the highest standards and taking responsibility for things we did not get right.”

Johnson was previously forced to apologise to the Queen following the unlawful prorogation of parliament in the autumn of 2019.

Former PM David Cameron was also forced to say sorry after telling Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, that the Queen “purred down the line” when he told her Scotland had voted against independence in 2014.

​READ MORE: Who is Sue Gray – and how is she involved in protecting the Union?

The latest revelations will form part of an inquiry by Sue Gray into parties held at Downing Street. The Times has reported on Friday that her inquiry will conclude that there is no evidence of criminality. A minister denied this morning there was a culture of rule-breaking in government.

About 30 people attended the two events on April 16 last year, The Daily Telegraph reported. Johnson himself was not there, having left the night before for Chequers, the Prime Minister’s grace-and-favour mansion.

The party began after the end of work when Slack, who had served as director of communications since the premiership of Theresa May and is now deputy editor of The Sun, gave a leaving speech to colleagues, some of whom tuned in online while others attended in person.

Elsewhere, in the basement of No 10, young aides were also marking the departure of one of Johnson’s photographers. One staff member was allegedly sent to the Co-op supermarket on The Strand to fill a suitcase with alcohol.

Slack, who is originally from Sheffield, 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.

He was appointed in 2017 as the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson. In the role he was responsible for holding daily briefings with lobby journalists.

He was ultimately promoted to the post 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 in April.