Though unfamiliar to American readers, Aitken needs no introduction in the United Kingdom. He was born into a famous political family. As the son of an M.P. (Member of Parliament), grandson of a baron and the great-nephew of Lord Beaverbrook, Winston Churchill’s closest Cabinet colleague during WWI and WWII, Aitken’s political prospects appeared limitless. He served for 25 years as an M.P. and as Minister of Defence and Chief Secretary of the Treasury during John Major’s term as Prime Minister. During Major’s tenure, Aitken was often mentioned as a potential successor.
Jonathan Aitken’s experience spans the world of journalism, business, Parliament --- and prison. In the 1960s he was a Fleet Street journalist, serving as a war correspondent in Vietnam, Biafra and the Middle East. Though he left journalism to pursue a career in business, serving as chairman of a London merchant bank, Aitken continues to write articles for a wide range of newspapers and magazines. 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.
Aitken’s political career came to a sudden end when he was caught telling a lie in a civil libel action. In the course of the media firestorm that followed, he went through the public agonies of defeat, disgrace, divorce, bankruptcy and an 18 month jail sentence following his plea of guilty to charges of perjury.
At his lowest point, while serving his prison sentence, Aitken’s life moved in a new direction. Guided compassionately by his friend Chuck Colson, Aitken used the time in prison to study the Bible and learn Greek. Upon his release, he studied for two years at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, graduating with distinction in theology. Aitken now speaks and writes extensively on the Christian faith. He is author in residence at St Matthew’s Church Westminster; a director of Prison Fellowship International; Executive Director of The Trinity Forum in Europe; and Honorary President of Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
Aitken currently devotes his energies to writing and broadcasting. He is the author of twelve books, including NIXON: A LIFE (1993); PRIDE AND PERJURY (2000); PSALMS FOR PEOPLE UNDER PRESSURE (2004); CHARLES W COLSON: A LIFE REDEEMED (2005); and JOHN NEWTON: FROM DISGRACE TO AMAZING GRACE, which will be published in June 2007. He is also a well-known lecturer and public speaker. Active in prison ministry and outreach ministry, he travels across the world for Prison Fellowship International and Alpha International. His recent audiences in the USA have included President George W Bush’s staff in the White House, the Harvard Club of New York, the prisoners of Parchman State Penitentiary Mississippi and Christian congregations in Vermont, Florida, Massachusetts, Virginia, Texas and Washington D.C. He has also spoken to large audiences in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, China and many European countries. In the U.K. he fulfills over 50 engagements for lectures, talks, debates and after-dinner speeches each year.