The journalist behind an infamous Daily Mail piece attacking the judiciary in the wake of a landmark Brexit ruling has just been named in Theresa May’s honours for service to the public.
James Slack, who now works at Number 10 as Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson, was political editor at the Daily Mail between October 2015 and January 2017, before moving to work for the Tory government.
In a November 2016 piece that attracted widespread criticism, he attacked the “out of touch” judges who ruled on Gina Miller’s case, in which she successfully argued that Article 50 could not be triggered without a vote in parliament.
“Senior MPs … said it was an outrage that an ‘unholy alliance’ of judges and embittered Remain backers could thwart the wishes of 17 million Leave voters”, fumed Slack in his front-page piece.
Each of the three judges, Sir Terence Etherton, Lord Justice Sales and Lord Chief Justice Thomas were pictured above the inflammatory headline, which received over 1,000 complaints to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO).
Headlines are often written by sub-editors, but according to the Oldie magazine, in this case it was Slack’s own confection and was approved by editor Paul Dactre.
The online version of the article initially described Etherton as “openly gay” but was edited after the paper received accusations of homophobia on social media.
In the aftermath of the article, the Bar Council launched an educational initiative to ensure secondary school pupils understood the importance of the judiciary.
Slack is to receive a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) honour “for public service”.