Policy Exchange Conservative Conference Fringe Event: Is our security being compromised by the judges? 04.10.11

Dean Godson is the Director of the London-based think tank Policy Exchange.

In 2016, the Evening Standard named Godson one of London's most influential people, saying that “Fiercely bright Godson, formerly chief leader writer at the Daily Telegraph, has been described as Britain’s acknowledged expert on the problem of social cohesion.”[1] Commentator Iain Dale also named Godson as one of the 100 most influential people on the right of British politics, in his annual rankings in 2016[2] , 2017[3] and 2018[4].


Godson was educated at three independent schools for boys: at Edinburgh Academy preparatory school, while his father was US Consul General in Scotland,[5] Sussex House School in Cadogan Square in Chelsea, London[6] and St Paul's School in Barnes, London, followed by Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge[7] from which he graduated with a second class degree (receiving a 2-2 in part I and a 2-1 in part II).[8]

Life and careerEdit

During the 1980s, Godson was Research Assistant to Sir Ray Whitney, MP for Wycombe. He also held the position of Assistant to Hon John Lehman, US Secretary of the Navy, Washington DC, and was a Research Fellow at both Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, Cambridge, Massachusetts and the Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies. From 1990–92, Godson worked as Librarian to Sir James Goldsmith.

From 1992–1995, he worked for The Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph as an obituary writer, leader writer and feature writer. From 1995–2004, he was Chief Leader Writer of The Daily Telegraph, writing largely about mainland domestic politics and Northern Ireland. From 1997–2004, he also worked as Associate Editor of The Spectator under Boris Johnson’s editorship (before the latter became Mayor for London), was a Contributing Editor for Prospect magazine and a Consultant Editor on the New York Sun.

In his political career, Godson stood as candidate in Great Grimsby in 1997 and served as first Deputy Chairman of Kensington and Chelsea Conservative Association from 1995–98.

Godson is author of Himself Alone: David Trimble and the Ordeal of Unionism[9] (Harper Collins, 2004) which was short listed for the Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize. Andrew Marr called it "a great act of political reporting – instant history, if you like – about the drama of Northern Ireland's search for peace".[10] He was a visiting Professor at the University of Ulster.

Work at Policy ExchangeEdit

Godson joined Policy Exchange in 2005 and initially headed up its research into security policy, before becoming its Director in 2013.

In 2005, Godson edited Replacing the Routemaster: how to undo Ken Livingstone's destruction of London's best ever bus. The study, which featured contributions from Colin Cramphorn, Simon Jenkins, Andrew Gilligan and many others, was the first major critique of Ken Livingstone's policy of scrapping the Routemaster bus. The report heavily influenced Boris Johnson's subsequent 'New Routemaster' policy in the 2008 London Mayoral elections.[11] and was attacked by outgoing Labour mayor Ken Livingstone in his memoirs.

Godson founded the Colin Cramphorn Memorial Lecture, to celebrate the life of the late Chief Constable of West Yorkshire. The inaugural lecture was delivered by Peter Clarke, then head of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command. In 2009, the lecture was delivered by Charles Farr, Director General of the Office of Security and Counter Terrorism in the Home Office. In September 2009, it was delivered by General David Petraeus, then Commander, United States Central Command.[12]

In 2011, Gen James N. Mattis, then head of CENTCOM, gave the sixth Colin Cramphorn Memorial Lecture.

As head of Policy Exchange's security unit, Godson produced a number of reports examining the views of British Muslims. This included, in 2009, "Choosing Our Friends Wisely: Criteria for Engagement with Muslim Groups”[13] by the ex Hizb ut-Tahrir radical Shiraz Maher and Dr Martyn Frampton of Peterhouse, Cambridge. The report was praised by Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank, former Chief of the Defence Staff, as "remarkable".[14]

In June 2011, columnist Matthew D’Ancona wrote in the Evening Standard that the Government's review of its counter-terrorist strategy was “a tribute to an intellectual battle fought over the years by the modernising think tank, Policy Exchange... and, specifically, the head of its foreign policy and security unit, Dean Godson”.[15]

In October 2007, Policy Exchange published a report entitled The Hijacking of British Islam: How extremist literature is subverting mosques in the UK. Godson became embroiled in controversy when Newsnight put out a broadcast on 12 December 2007[16] that suggested some of the receipts purporting to prove the sale of extremist material had been forged, and that some of the material had come from bookshops purportedly unconnected to the mosques named in the report.

Policy Exchange's rebuttal[17] maintained that the receipts were not mentioned in the report, and that the report's findings were not dependent on them. On 15 August 2008, The Independent[18] reported that two mosques mentioned in the report, the Al-Manar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre and the North London Central Mosque, were preparing to take legal action against the Policy Exchange. Subsequently, the Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre, following a clarification but no apology from Policy Exchange, withdrew its threatened legal complaint.

On 26 November 2009, Mr Justice Eady struck out the claim brought against Policy Exchange by the North London Central Mosque. The six mosque trustees who had advanced the claim were ordered to pay Policy Exchange's costs of defending the action. The High Court made a further Order that £75,000 of those costs be paid by the North London Central Mosque within 28 days.[19]

Godson's work on combating extremism was praised in a speech in 2014 by the then UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, calling it “incredibly important” and stating it “has had a huge influence”.[20]

In April 2017, Godson published a lengthy article on the ConservativeHome website, setting out Policy Exchange's call for evidence on the contingency plans needed in the event that the UK is unable to secure a deal with the EU when it leaves the bloc.[21] ConservativeHome's editor, Paul Goodman, called this “a thought-provoking list of questions... Policy Exchange is early out of the traps seeking answers”.[22]


  1. ^ "The Progress 1000: Equality Champions". Evening Standard. 7 September 2016. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  2. ^ "Iain Dale's 100 Most Influential People On The Right". LBC. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  3. ^ Dale, Iain (2 October 2017). "The Top 100 Most Influential People On The Right: Iain Dale's 2017 List". LBC. Retrieved 11 March 2018.
  4. ^ "Iain Dale's the Top Most Influential People on the Conservative Right".
  5. ^ Joseph Godson, The New York Times, 12 September 1986
  6. ^ About The School - Old Cadogans, Sussex House School
  7. ^ Once a Caian... Archived 5 June 2016 at the Wayback Machine 9–12 Issue 12 - Gonville and Caius College
  8. ^ The Historical Register of the University of Cambridge, Supplement 1981-1985. Cambridge University Press. p. 274.
  9. ^ Himself Alone: David Trimble and the Ordeal of Unionism, Harper Perennial, 2011
  10. ^ Ulster's tough man Andrew Marr reviews Himself Alone: David Trimble and the Ordeal of Unionism by Dean Godson, The Daily Telegraph, 27 June 2004
  11. ^ Hill, Dave (3 July 2008). "Will Boris Johnson's Routemaster dream reach its terminus?". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  12. ^ "Gen David Petraeus: 'Everything in Afghanistan is hard'". The Daily Telegraph. London. 17 September 2009. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 March 2009. Retrieved 26 August 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ Guthrie, Charles (24 March 2009). "This is no way to counter Islamic terror". The Times. London. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  15. ^ "For Cameron, terrorism is the new Cold War". Evening Standard. 8 June 2011. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  16. ^ https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/2007/12/wednesday_12_december_2007.html
  17. ^ Browne, Anthony (22 December 2007). "Extremist literature and British mosques". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  18. ^ Rajan, Amol (15 August 2008). "Tories' favourite think-tank sued by Muslim group". The Independent. London. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  19. ^ http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/
  20. ^ PolicyExchangeUK (24 April 2017), David Cameron's speech at the 2014 Policy Exchange Summer Party, retrieved 24 April 2017
  21. ^ "Dean Godson: Deal or No Deal. What happens if we leave the EU without a comprehensive agreement? A call for evidence. | Conservative Home". Conservative Home. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  22. ^ "The Brexit negotiation – and why the importance of tariff-free trade has been over-hyped | Conservative Home". Conservative Home. Retrieved 5 May 2017.


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