PHOTOGRAPH BY GRAHAM GUY BARRATT (C) OUTSIDE HMP PENTONVILLE 2022
The Revd Jonathan Aitken is an author, broadcaster, columnist, lecturer and campaigner for prison reform. He is a former Cabinet Minister, Member of Parliament, ex-prisoner and now priest and part time prison chaplain at HMP Pentonville.
His 16 books include his award-winning biographies of President Richard Nixon, Nixon: A Life (1993) and Margaret Thatcher: Power and Personality (2013) and John Newton: From Grace to Amazing Disgrace (2013) as well as two volumes of autobiography, Pride and Perjury (2000) and Porridge and Passion (2006).
For a full list of Jonathan Aitken’s published titles go to “Books”.
His political career included 23 years as a Member of Parliament. He was Minister of State for Defence and Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
After graduating in Law from Christ Church, Oxford in 1964 he became a Fleet Street journalist. He was a senior reporter and feature writer for the London Evening Standard serving as a war correspondent in Vietnam, Biafra and The Middle East. He continues to write articles for a wide range of newspapers and magazines.
After journalism he went into business and became chairman of a merchant bank in the City of London.
In 1974 he became a Conservative Member of Parliament spending eighteen years on the backbenches until being appointed Minister of State for Defence in 1992. He joined the Cabinet as Chief Secretary to the Treasury in 1994.
His political career ended when he told a lie on oath in a libel action. Subsequently he pleaded guilty to charges of perjury and served a seven-month prison sentence in 1999.
After graduating with Distinction in theology after two years at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford (2000-2002) he began a new career as a writer, lecturer, and broadcaster.
In 2018 he was ordained and is now a priest and part time prison chaplain at HMP Pentonville.
He is Patron of Prison Fellowship International; Executive Director of Trinity Forum Europe; Trustee of The McDonald Agape Foundation; Honorary President of Christian Solidarity Worldwide and President of Tempus Novo. He has written several groundbreaking reports for The Centre for Social Justice: Locked Up Potential: A Strategy for Reforming Prisons and Rehabilitating Offenders; Meaningful Mentoring (2014) and What Happened to the Rehabilitation Revolution with Judge John Samuels QC (2017).
In 2019 Jonathan along with Mick May OBE (Blue Sky) and Imam Shaffiq Din founded the charity Chance to Change Foundation/Friends of Pentonville which aims to promote the care, resettlement and rehabilitation of offenders at HMP Pentonville.
As a public speaker Jonathan Aitken is in demand for lectures, talks, debates, after dinner speeches and testimony talks. He fulfils over 50 speaking engagements in a variety of venues from churches to schools to auditoriums to small groups of individuals. In September 2023 Jonathan is travelling to the USA to speak at the Nixon Library.
On Sundays he is either at St Peter's Notting Hill or St Matthew's Westminster where he serves as an Assistant Priest and Celebrant.