Who We Are

Our Patrons

The Rt Hon Sir Jeffery Donaldson MP

Jeffrey Donaldson’s political career began in 1985 when he was first elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly with the distinction at the age of 22 of being the youngest person to win a seat in the Assembly. Jeffrey was subsequently elected to the UK Parliament on 1 May 1997 to represent the constituency of Lagan Valley and was re-elected in December 2019 for a seventh term. He is currently the longest-serving Westminster MP from Northern Ireland.

Jeffrey was a key member of the Ulster Unionist Party negotiating team in the talks culminating in the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement in April 1998. He subsequently joined the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in January 2004.

Following the restoration of Devolved Government in May 2007, Jeffrey was appointed as the lead DUP member of the Northern Ireland Policing Board. He also chaired the Assembly and Executive Review Committee whose remit included the preparations for the devolution of Policing and Justice Powers to the Assembly.  In 2007 Jeffrey was appointed by Her Late Majesty the Queen as a Member of the Privy Council advising the UK Head of State on matters in the national interest.

In February 2008, Jeffrey was appointed to Ministerial Office in the Office of the First Minister in the Northern Ireland Government. He stepped down from the Northern Ireland Assembly following the 2010 General Election and has served as both Chief Whip and laterally as Parliamentary Leader of the DUP.  Jeffrey is currently a member of the UK Parliamentary delegations to the UK/EU Partnership Assembly.  In 2015 he was appointed by the Prime Minister as the UK Trade Envoy to Egypt and subsequently also to Cameroon.

In June 2016 Jeffrey was awarded a Knighthood by Her Late Majesty the Queen for his services to politics.  In 2021, Jeffrey was elected Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party.  He is 60 years old, married to Eleanor with two children and is a member of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

Major General (Retired) Tim Cross CBE

Major General (Retired) Tim Cross CBE MSc BSc (Hons) was commissioned into the British Army in 1971. He commanded at every level, from leading a small Bomb Disposal Team in Northern Ireland in the 1970’s to commanding a Division of around 30,000 in 2004/07.

Alongside various tours in the UK and Germany, he served with the UN in Cyprus in 1980/81 and had operational deployments to Kuwait/Iraq in 1990/91 and Bosnia in 1995/96 and 1997. In 1999, as a Brigadier in command of 101 Logistic Brigade, he deployed to Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo and was appointed CBE in the subsequent operational awards for his work in leading the NATO response to the Humanitarian crisis; his brigade headquarters was also awarded the Wilkinson Sword of Peace.

In September/October 2002 he became involved in the initial planning for military operations in Iraq, and in 2003 deployed to Washington, Kuwait and then Baghdad. In July 2003, he returned to the UK and, after a Staff Appointment, assumed command of the largest of the three Divisions of the UK Field Army in October 2004. Retiring in January 2007 he was the Army Adviser to the UK House of Commons Defence Committee for 7 years until 2014.

Amongst a broad portfolio Tim is a Local Lay Minister in the Church of England and an itinerant preacher and speaker. He has worked with both +Justin and +Rowan, and previously chaired the Board of Theos, the Christian Think Tank. He currently works with 5 Talents – the Anglican Communion Charity and Christians in Government. A tutor at the Leadership Trust and a Visiting/Honorary Professor at Nottingham University, he is also on the Board of two UK/International companies.

Tim has been married to Christine since 1972; they have 3 children, 5 grandchildren and 1 great-grandson. Outside of them, his hobbies include gardening, walking and reading/writing, having had a number of articles and book chapters published.

Professor Nigel Biggar CBE

Nigel Biggar CBE is Emeritus Regius Professor of Moral Theology at the University of Oxford and Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Pusey House, Oxford. He holds a B.A. in Modern History from Oxford and a Ph.D. in Christian Theology & Ethics from the University of Chicago. He was appointed C.B.E. “for services to Higher Education” in the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

His most recent books are Colonialism: A Moral Reckoning (2023), What’s Wrong with Rights? (2020), In Defence of War (2013), and Between Kin and Cosmopolis: An Ethic of the Nation (2014). In the press he has written articles for the Financial Times, the (London) Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Spectator, the (Glasgow) Herald, the Irish TimesStandpointThe CriticThe ArticleUnherd and Quillette.

He served on the Committee on Ethical Issues in Medicine at the Royal College of Physicians (London) from 2000 to 2014, the Royal Society’s Working Group on People and the Planet from 2010 to 2012, and the Pontifical Academy for Life from 2017 to 2022. He now chairs the board of trustees of the Free Speech Union.

He has lectured at the Royal College of Defence Studies, London; the UK Defence Academy, Shrivenham; the Führungsakademie der Bundeswehr, Hamburg; the US Military Academy, West Point; and the National Defense University, Washington, DC.

His hobbies include visiting battlefields. In 1973 he drove from Scotland via Iran and Afghanistan to India. And in 2015 and 2017 he trekked across the mountains of central Crete in the footsteps of Patrick Leigh-Fermor and his comrades, when they abducted General Kreipe in April-May 1944.

Robin Aitken MBE

Robin Aitken had a 25-year reporting career at the BBC on programmes including On The Record, The Money Programme and finally, on the Today programme.  After becoming disillusioned with the bias he encountered, he left the BBC in order to write his first book in 2007, Can We Trust the BBC? (updated and re-published in 2013). In 2018, he published a second book about the BBC, The Noble Liar: how and why the BBC distorts the news to promote a liberal agenda. Both books explore, among other things, the latent bias in the BBC against Christianity and traditional Christian morality.

Since leaving the BBC, he has worked as a freelance writer and broadcaster – most frequently for the Daily Telegraph but also for other national newspapers and magazines. He often appears as a commentator on radio and TV shows when the BBC is under discussion. In 2021, he helped launch a YouTube Channel, New Humanum, on which he interviews high-profile Christians exploring the way their faith has shaped their life and work.  In 2014, he was awarded an MBE for services to the vulnerable for his work in setting up the Oxford Food Bank (now the Oxford Food Hub) – a food recovery charity which collects surplus food from wholesalers and supermarkets and re-distributes it to people in need via other charities.

A lifelong Catholic, he is married with two daughters and lives in Oxford.

Guy Hordern MBE JP

Guy Hordern was educated at Jesus College Cambridge and Clifton (now Trinity Theological College Bristol). He has lived in Birmingham since 1968 where he has served as a Reader and is currently Churchwarden at St Bartholomew’s Church Edgbaston and a member of the House of Laity of the General Synod of the Church of England.

Guy served for 10 years as a Conservative member of Birmingham City Council and has been Chair of the Birmingham Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education and Chair of two Agreed Syllabus (RE) Conferences. He was Faith Advisor to Cllr (now Lord) Whitby the Leader of Birmingham City Council between 2004 and 2012 and is currently a Faith Advisor to Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority.

He is a Governor of the Birmingham Blue Coat School and of Broadway Academy, Birmingham. In 2010 Guy was appointed MBE for services to Community Relations in Birmingham. Guy married Helen Munro who died in 1986. They have four children.

Canon Dr Chris Sugden

Canon Dr Chris Sugden (St Peter’s Oxford, 1966-72) is married to Elaine a retired cancer doctor, and they have three married children and nine grandchildren.  After training under Michael Green and George Carey at St John’s Nottingham, a curacy at St George’s Leeds and work in BBC Radio Leeds, Chris spent six years in theological education and development work in India.

He was part of the international team with Canon Vinay Samuel that established the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies in 1983 which has graduated 160 doctorates from around the world. He is currently the Programme Leader of the Ph D Programme of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life.

He was conference secretary of the first Global Anglican Future Conference in Jerusalem in 2008.  He is a member of the UK Forum on Freedom of Religion and Belief and its working group on Nigeria. He was one time chairman of Traidcraft and a member of General Synod, and now chairman of Anglican Mainstream, secretary of his local Patients Participation Group and convenor of the Hinksey and Osney Environment Group addressing the Flood Alleviation Scheme for Oxford. He holds canonries in Sunyani, Ghana and Jos, Northern Nigeria. Likes: Morris Minors, Saabs, Poirot and Miss Marple, and Morecambe and Wise.

Charles Colchester

Charles Colchester co-founded CARE (Christian Action Research and Education) in 1983 which combined social caring with political lobbying. Over the next twenty-five years, CARE successfully launched Care for the Family, Care for Education, Care for Life, The Care Homes Programme, Care Remand Fostering and the Care Intern Programme. In 1986, he launched Care for Europe which was based in Brussels where he was able to support MEPs in relation to European legislation that would impact Family, Marriage and Christian ethics.

In 1991, he started up a new venture called the Ethics Development Initiative, in response to the recent collapse of the Soviet Empire focusing upon the five fundamental fields of Ethics: Business, Politics, Medicine, Law and Social Policy and the Arts. To this end, EDI created a programme of training for emerging leaders to develop an integrated Christian world view. This has now become the Gospel in Society programme.

In 2002, Sheikha Musa, the consort of the Emir of Qatar, asked Charles to co-found, what has now become the Doha International Family Institute. This is the first Pro-Family and Marriage organisation in the world, specifically funded by a sovereign state. This resulted in the Doha Declaration on the Family (2004) in the UN. He then went on to serve on the Board until 2015.

In 2009, Charles founded the OID (Office of International Diplomacy), a registered American and Canadian charity, with operations around the globe. Charles worked with senior diplomats and government ministers on peace and reconciliation initiatives using the ‘Family’ as a new diplomatic language, particularly in United Nations centres.

With a background in business, Charles has also served as a Church Warden, was Chairman of the Maranatha Christian Trust (1987-2010), Director of Tear Fund (1990-1995) and Trustee of The Centre for Bio Ethics and Public Policy (1996-2009) among other organisations. Currently, he is Trustee of the Epiphany Trust (2017- ) and in 2020, he founded Let Kids be Kids, a coalition of those who seek to safeguard and protect children by defending parental rights.

Charles is married to Serena, an NHS Education consultant and retired GP; they have six children and three grandchildren and live in West Sussex.

Sarah Finch

Sarah Finch currently serves as a member of the General Synod of the Church of England.

Born into a naval family, and brought up in Hampshire villages, Sarah has spent most of her life in London.  Having become a Christian at 20, she began to pray about going to university.  She has a degree in French and a post-graduate diploma in the history of art (mainly French).  She joined a small, privately-owned publishing house, and learned enough about editing to go freelance later.  She edits non-fiction books, including Christian books.

Married for more than forty years to the late Stephen Finch OBE – for many years a churchwarden at their family church, St Helen’s Bishopsgate – and mother of two daughters, Sarah has had a ‘portfolio’ life, combining motherhood with editing and committee work.  She has been a member of the General Committee of the Bible Society, and a school governor at the City’s only state primary school.  She is currently a member of the St Helen’s PCC and a trustee of Anglican Mainstream, of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GAFCON) and of The Latimer Trust, a Christian publishing house.

Since the year 2000 Sarah has been an elected member of General Synod.  This means she is also a member of the London Diocesan Synod and the City Deanery Synod.  She was thankful to be elected to the Appointments Committee of the Church of England.  She was appointed, as the General Synod rep, to the Councils of two theological colleges, Oak Hill College and then Wycliffe Hall.

Her two grandchildren have always lived abroad, so their London visits are very precious.  For relaxation Sarah enjoys visiting art galleries, singing and gardening.

Professor Roger Trigg

Professor Roger Trigg is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick, and Senior Research Fellow at the Ian Ramsey Centre, University of Oxford. He was the Founding President of the British Society for the Philosophy of Religion, and has also been President of the European Society for Philosophy of Religion. In his work furthering the interests of British philosophy, he was the first President of the British Philosophical Association. He has been Associate Scholar with the Religious Freedom Project, Georgetown University, Washington DC, and is a member of the Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton, New Jersey.

The author of many books on central questions of philosophy, he has also written on the philosophical relationship between science and religion. In his work on issues concerning religious freedom and religious diversity within increasingly secular societies his books include Religion in Public Life, Oxford University Press, 2007: Equality Freedom and Religion, Oxford University Press 2012: Religious Diversity: Philosophical and Political Dimensions, Cambridge University Press, 2014: and Monotheism and Religious Diversity, Cambridge University Press Elements Series, 2020. His latest book is a contribution to the Very Short Introduction series published by Oxford University Press on Faith (2024)

Patricia Morgan

Patricia Morgan is a sociologist and author of many publications. She has written for national newspapers and periodicals, contributed to television and radio debate, and has worked for think-tanks.

Her books include: Farewell to the Family, (1995, 2nd edition, updated, 1999); Are Families Affordable? (1996); Who Needs Parents?  (1996); Adoption and the Care of Children, (1998); Children as Trophies (2002); Family Structure and Economic Outcomes (Economic Research Council, 2004); Family Matters: Family Breakdown and its Consequences (a study in the New Zealand context: 2004); Family Policies, Family Changes: Sweden, Italy and the UK (2006); War between the State and the Family (2007), The Marriage Files (2014).

Patricia Morgan has contributed to many publications including: Criminal Welfare on Trial (1981), The Loss of Virtue (1992), Just a Piece of Paper? (1995), Feminism Versus Mankind (The British Woman Today, 1997), Re-writing the Sexual Contract (1997), The Fragmenting Family: Does it Matter? (1998), Juvenile Delinquency in the United States and the United Kingdom (Macmillan, 1999).

From 1978-87, she was a committee member at the Centre for Policy Studies, London, and Senior Research Fellow on the Family with CIVITAS (Institute for the Study of Civil Society) 1995-2005. She recently held a Visiting Fellowship with the School of Humanities, Buckingham University for two consecutive 3-year terms. As well as writing for periodicals and student texts, she has been a frequent contributor to the national press and to television and radio debate. As a freelance from the late 1970s onwards, her contributions have appeared in the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail, as well as contributing to other newspapers and magazines including Prospect, Spectator, The Salisbury Review and The Critic.

Melanie Symonds

Bio coming soon

Gordon Pettie

Bio coming soon

Our Commissioners

Dr Gavin Ashenden

Dr Gavin Ashenden is Associate Editor of the Catholic Herald and is also an author and commentator. Formerly, he was a Church of England priest and was appointed Chaplain to H.M. Queen Elizabeth from 2008 until 2017.

He graduated from the University of Bristol with a degree in law and trained for the priesthood at Oak Hill Theological College. He studied at Heythrop College, University of London, achieving a Masters in Theology on the psychology of religion. While he was a chaplain and faculty member at the University of Sussex, he did a doctorate on Charles Williams. His publication on Williams, Alchemy and Integration was reviewed by the-then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams in the Times Literary Supplement.

Dr Ashenden was ordained in the Church of England in 1980 and served as a parish priest for 10 years. He also served as senior lecturer and university chaplain in the English Department of the University of Sussex (1989-2012) and lectured in systemic theology at the University of Brighton (1995-2003). In 2003, he was appointed as a canon of Chichester Cathedral. He also served as Diocesan Adviser on New Age Religions to the Bishop of Chichester. During the 1980s, Dr Ashenden was vice chairman of the Keston Institute and as a director of Aid to Russian Christians, he smuggled Bibles and medicine to the underground churches of the Soviet Union. Dr Ashenden was a member of the General Synod of the Church of England (1995-2012), and a Church of England delegate to the 8th Council of the World Council of Churches (Harare, Zimbabwe, 1998).

He presented the BBC radio programme, Faith and Ethics (2008-2012) and a BBC podcast, Faith in England (2009-2012). He has written for many newspapers including The Times, Daily Telegraph, Sunday Times and Christian Today, and was interviewed by Rod Liddle for the Sunday Times.

In 2017, Dr Ashenden relinquished his orders within the Church of England and later that year he was consecrated by the Christian Episcopal Church as a missionary bishop for the UK and Europe. In 2019, he resigned from the Christian Episcopal Church and became a Catholic.

Simon Caldwell

Simon Caldwell is a journalist, novelist and public relations consultant. He joined The Catholic Herald as associate editor in 1999 and The Daily Mail in 2001, where he spent more than a decade on the foreign desk. As a freelance journalist, he has also written for a range of other publications, including The Mail on SundayThe Sunday TimesThe TimesThe Daily TelegraphThe SunThe IndependentThe SpectatorThe Church Times and The Jewish Chronicle. He returned to The Catholic Herald in 2021 as associate editor with responsibility for news and for podcasts.

His first novel, The Beast of Bethulia Park, a psychological thriller, was published by Gracewing in autumn 2022.

Paul Diamond

Paul Diamond was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1985; and specialises in the law of religious liberty, freedom of speech and European law. He studied for his LLM at Magdalene College, Cambridge; and he won a scholarship to study international law at the Hague Academy of International Law, The Netherlands.

He is one of the leading barristers in the law of religious liberty; and he has appeared at every level in the national courts (including the House of Lords) as well as the European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg and the Court of Justice of the European Union, Luxembourg. He was barrister to the Keep Sunday Special Campaign and to the Christian Legal Centre. Paul has argued many ground-breaking cases; on religious rights, freedom of speech and civil liberties.  He handles some of the most controversial cases in the national courts; from freedom of religion, free speech to complex matters of abortion and gendercide.

Recently, he won the important free speech case of Felix Ngole and appeared in the Birmingham School case where children as young as 4 were educated about LGBT issues. He has worked on cases at the highest levels; including with the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, religious leaders, political leaders and the famous Soviet dissident, Vladimir Bukovsky. He has brought important cases to the European Court of Human Rights on religious liberty; and was involved in the famous Eweida & Others v United Kingdom (the British Airways Cross case) to the recent tragic case of Alfie Evans (Alfie was denied medical treatment in Rome after the Pope intervened in the case; and Alfie subsequently died) to the important European Citizens Initiative case before the President of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Paul is an eloquent speaker and political strategist; who is able to combine his legal, media and political skills into his professional work.

Robert Harris

Robert Harris is Strategy Director of Voice for Justice UK. He is the author of an acclaimed book on the subject of marriage, and has contributed to several books and reports on a number of topics. He has been interviewed on television and radio and has spoken at numerous events. He currently serves as a member of the Lords and Commons Family and Child Protection Group and was previously its Joint Convenor (2014-2019). He is a member of the Board of Reference of Immanuel Online School.

In 2015, he organized a conference on the theme of Magna Carta in the year of its 800th anniversary. Following this event, VfJUK in collaboration with Wilberforce Publications published a book, Magna Carta Unravelled: The Case for Christian Freedoms Today, to which he contributed a chapter focused on high-profile legal cases involving religious conscience in the workplace. More recently, he chaired the planning group that set up CIDAC.

Will Jones

Will Jones is the Editor of the Daily Sceptic, a widely-read UK-based news and comment website covering all aspects of the ‘culture wars’. He has a PhD in political philosophy, a degree in mathematics and a diploma in theology. A Christian and regular churchgoer who lives in Leamington Spa, he has been writing about the challenges currently facing Christians in the UK for the past decade.

Gabriel Olearnik

Gabriel Olearnik helps businesses, governments and individuals all over the world solve the largest and most complex disputes. He does this by partnering with elite law firms, investigators and tech innovators.

Over the last few years, he has been involved in over 400 disputes with an aggregate value of $100 billion and have closed several innovative deals, with a particular emphasis on private equity investments and investment treaty arbitrations.

In the wider context, his cultural output has been extensively published in the United States, including in Dappled Things and the San Diego Reader. He has provided live commentary on British culture for a national TV audience on the occasions of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding and the death of Queen Elizabeth II, with peak audience viewing of over 2 million.

Gabriel is a former Secretary-General of the Polish City Club and the founder and CEO of Catholic Voices Poland. In 2016 he was made a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre.

Revd Lynda Rose

Lynda Rose is an Anglican priest and writer.  Called to the Bar in 1983, she subsequently went into ministry and became one of the first women to be ordained in the Anglican Church.  Currently she is CEO of Voice for Justice UK, the campaigning group founded to defend the disadvantaged and marginalised, and to defend Christian freedoms in an increasingly secular world.  She also serves as Convenor of the Lords and Commons Family and Child Protection Group, an independent all-party Parliamentary research group.  

She is author of several books for both the religious and general markets, and regularly writes for Christian Today, and the Christian media.

Dr Tony Rucinski

Tony has been a Christian for nearly 40 years, has served as a Church Elder, led local youth work and outreach, and has involvement with national initiatives promoting Christian values and organisations.  He has experience working in many secular roles including CEO positions for national organisations, and a broad range of Chair and Trustee appointments. Tony lives in Cardiff with his wife Liz, and they have four children. He is currently Director of Supporter Strategy at the Coalition for Marriage.