Dean Godson is a Research Director on security issues at Policy Exchange, Contributing Editor of Prospect Magazine, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Ulster.
Godson was educated at three independent schools for boys: at Edinburgh Academy preparatory school, while his father was US Consul General in Scotland, Sussex House School in Cadogan Square in Chelsea, London and St Paul's School in Barnes, London, followed by Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge.
Life and career
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.
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 (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".
Work at Policy Exchange
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.
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. The most recent Colin Cramphorn Memorial Lecture, in September 2009, was delivered by General David Petraeus, Commander, United States Central Command.
Godson's unit most recently produced "Choosing Our Friends Wisely: Criteria for Engagement with Muslim Groups” 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".
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 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 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 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.
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”.
In 2016, Godson was listed by the Evening Standard in its annual survey ‘The Progress 1000: London's most influential people 2016 - Equality Champions’.
In response to the Government review of its counter-terrorist strategy in June 2011, one leading columnist, Matthew d’Ancona, wrote in the Evening Standard that the review 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”.