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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.
- Joseph Godson, The New York Times, 12 September 1986
- About The School - Old Cadogans, Sussex House School
- Once a Caian... 9-12 Issue 12 - Gonville and Caius College
- Himself Alone: David Trimble and the Ordeal of Unionism, Harper Perennial, 2011
- 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
- Hill, Dave (3 July 2008). "Will Boris Johnson's Routemaster dream reach its terminus?". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- "Gen David Petraeus: 'Everything in Afghanistan is hard'". The Daily Telegraph. London. 17 September 2009. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- Guthrie, Charles (24 March 2009). "This is no way to counter Islamic terror". The Times. London. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- Browne, Anthony (22 December 2007). "Extremist literature and British mosques". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- Rajan, Amol (15 August 2008). "Tories' favourite think-tank sued by Muslim group". The Independent. London. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- Godson, Dean (2005). Himself alone: David Trimble and the ordeal of unionism. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-007-17999-5.