Aitken, Jonathan 1942–

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Aitken, Jonathan 1942–

(Jonathan William Patrick Aitken)

PERSONAL: Born August 30, 1942, in Dublin, Ireland; son of William Traven (a politician) and Penelope Jane (Maffey) Aitken; married; first wife's name, Lolicia (marriage ended); married second wife, Elizabeth Harris, June, 2003; children: (first marriage) Victoria. Education: Christ Church, Oxford, M.A., 1965. Politics: Conservative. Religion: Church of England. Hobbies and other interests: Ballooning, bobsledding, and squash.

ADDRESSES: Home—47 Phillimore Gardens, London W8, England. Office—Slater Walker Securities, 30 St. Paul's Churchyard, London EC4, England. Agent—Clive Conway Celebrity Productions, Ltd., 32 Grove St., Oxford OX2 7JT, England.

CAREER: Monitor Publishing Co. Ltd., Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and London, England, publisher, 1965–66; Evening Standard, London, journalist, 1966–70; Slater Walker Securities, Middle East division, London, managing director, 1970–. Private secretary to Selwyn Lloyd on tour of Australia and New Zealand, 1965–66, and on visit to Rhodesia, 1966; unsuccessfully contested a seat in Parliament as Conservative candidate in 1966 general election; elected to Parliament as Thanet East Conservative member, 1974–97; became Minister of State for Defence Procurement, 1992; Chief Secretary to the Treasury, 1994–95; served seven months in prison for perjury and perverting the course of justice, beginning in 1999. Director of four Christian charity organizations. Member, Royal Institute of International Affairs, Saddlers' Company, and the Bow Group.

MEMBER: Coningsby Club, Turf Club, Pratts.



(With Michael Beloff) A Short Walk on the Campus, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1966.

Swinging London, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1967, published as The Young Meteros, Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1967.

Land of Fortune: A Study of the New Australia, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1971.

Officially Secret, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1971.

Nixon: A Life, Regnery Publishing (Washington, DC), 1993.

Pride and Perjury, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.

Psalms for People under Pressure, Continuum (London, England), 2004.

Charles W. Colson: A Life Redeemed, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2005.

Contributor to Harper's Bazaar, Spectator, Listener, Evening Standard, and other periodicals. Editor, Oxford Tory, 1962–63.

SIDELIGHTS: Jonathan Aitken was elected to the British Parliament in 1974, but he remained in the background of the political scene during the years Margaret Thatcher was prime minister. When John Major took that post, Aitken rose to more prominent positions, finally becoming Chief Secretary to the Treasury. A year after accepting that job, however, Aitken resigned amid accusations that he had violated regulations while acting as Minister of Defence Procurement by allowing some of his travel expenses to be paid by an Arab businessman. Aitken denied the charges, but his evidence for this alibi was later disproved, and so he was tried and convicted for perjury and obstruction of justice. While serving his prison sentence, Aitken took up the study of the Bible, Christian theology, and the Greek language. Upon his release from prison, he attempted to return to politics, but his proposal to do so was turned down by Conservative Party leader Michael Howard.

Aitken has published several books, including a biography of former United States president Richard M. Nixon. In Charles W. Colson: A Life Redeemed he chronicles the life of one of Nixon's aides who was a key figure in the Watergate scandal that brought down the Nixon presidency. Colson was special counsel to Nixon and part of the president's inner circle, but when the Watergate scandal broke, he served as a scapegoat and was eventually indicted and imprisoned for obstruction of justice. Like Aitken, Colson found religion in prison. He later founded the Prison Fellowship, which evangelizes inmates and their family members. Reviewing Charles W. Colson for Campaigns & Elections, Morgan E. Flechner commented that "Colson is a controversial figure in every sense of the word, and Aitken provides the reader with a look at all aspects of his life." Washington Monthly reviewer Max Blumenthal called the biography "an impressive piece of public relations" but found it biased. The critic concluded: "Colson no longer attacks individuals in the service of Nixon; he attacks them in the name of God." A more positive assessment was offered by Cindy Crosby, a Christianity Today reviewer who noted that the changes in Colson's life provide "an absorbing read," and added that the book contains "good news for us all."



Harding, Luke, David Leigh, and David Pallister, The Liar: The Fall of Jonathan Aitken, Penguin Books (New York, NY), 1997.


Business Line, June 11, 1999, Timeri N. Murari, "Rise and Downfall."

Campaigns & Elections, September, 2005, Morgan E. Flechner, review of Charles W. Colson: A Life Redeemed, p. 43.

Christianity Today, August, 2005, Cindy Crosby, review of Charles W. Colson, p. 69.

Europe Intelligence Wire, March 15, 2005, "How a Self-Confessed 'Former Sinner' Found His Own Peace through God,"

Financial Times, February 6, 2004, Cathy Newman, "Aitken Wants to Stand for Tories in Old Seat," p. 4; February 14, 2004, Sathnam Sanghera, interview with Jonathan Aitken, p. 3.

Washington Monthly, July-August, 2005, Max Blumenthal, review of Charles W. Colson, p. 47.