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Christopher John Penrice Booker (born 7 October 1937) is an English journalist and author.


Booker was educated at the Dragon Schoolmarker in Oxfordmarker, Shrewsbury Schoolmarker, and Corpus Christi Collegemarker, Cambridgemarker, where he read History. His parents founded the elite girls' school Knighton Housemarker.

He was briefly married to the novelist Emma Tennant and to Christine Verity, who later married historian Norman Stone. In 1979, he married Valerie Patrick, with whom he has two sons; they live in Somersetmarker.

Views on science

Via his long-running column in the UK's Sunday Telegraph, Booker has claimed that man-made global warming was "disproved" in 2008, that white asbestos is "chemically identical to talcum powder" and poses a "non-existent risk" to human health, that "scientific evidence to support [the] belief that inhaling other people's smoke causes cancer simply does not exist" and that there is "no proof that BSE causes CJD in humans". He has also defended the theory of Intelligent Design, maintaining that Darwinians "rest their case on nothing more than blind faith and unexamined a priori assumptions".


With fellow Salopiansmarker Richard Ingrams and Willie Rushton he founded Private Eyemarker in 1961, and was its first editor. He was ousted by Ingrams in 1963. Returning in 1965, he has remained a member of the magazine’s collaborative joke-writing team ever since (with Ingrams, Barry Fantoni and current editor Ian Hislop).

From 1959 to 1962, he was the first jazz critic for the Daily and Sunday Telegraphs. In 1962 he became the resident political scriptwriter on the BBC satire show That Was The Week That Was, notably contributing sketches on Home Secretary Henry Brooke and prime minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home which have often been cited as examples of the programme’s outspoken style.

From 1964 he became a Spectator columnist, writing on the press and TV, and in 1969 published The Neophiliacs: A Study of the Revolution in English Life In The Fifties and Sixties, a highly critical analysis of the role played by fantasy in the political and social life of those decades.

In the early 70s he campaigned against the building of tower blocks and the wholesale redevelopment of Britain’s cities according to the ideology of the modern movement. In 1973 he published both Goodbye London (written with John Betjeman’s daughter Candida Lycett Green), and, with Bennie Gray, was the IPC Campaigning Journalist of the Year. His BBC documentary City of Towers (1979) was widely praised, not least by some of the modern architects whose work it criticised.

In the mid-1970s he contributed a regular quiz to Melvyn Bragg’s BBC literary programme Read All About It, and he returned to the Spectator as a weekly contributor (1976-1981), when he also became a lead book-reviewer for the Sunday Telegraph.In 1980 he published The Seventies: Portrait Of A Decade, and covered the Moscow Olympics for the Daily Mail, publishing The Games War: A Moscow Journal the following year. Between 1988 and 1990 he contributed The Way of the World satirical column to the Daily Telegraph (as Peter Simple II), and in 1990 swapped places with Auberon Waugh to become a weekly columnist on the Sunday Telegraph, where he has remained to this day.

From 1992 he focused more on the role played in British life by bureaucratic regulation and the European Union, forming a professional collaboration with Dr Richard North, and they subsequently co-authored a series of books: The Mad Officials: How The Bureaucrats Are Strangling Britain (1994); The Castle of Lies (1996); The Great Deception (2003), a critical history of the European Union; and most recently Scared To Death: From BSE To Global Warming, Why Scares Are Costing Us The Earth (2007), a study of the part played in Western society in recent decades by the ‘scare phenomenon’.

Between 1986 and 1990 he took part in a detailed investigation, chaired by Brigadier Tony Cowgill, of the widely-publicised charges that senior British politicians, including Harold Macmillan, had been guilty of a serious war crime in handing over thousands of Cossack and Yugoslav prisoners to the Communists at the end of the war in 1945. Their report, published in 1990, presented those events in a very different light, and Booker published a lengthy analysis of the controversy in A Looking Glass Tragedy (1997).

In 2005 he published The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories, a Jungian-influenced analysis of stories and their psychological meaning, on which he had been working for over 30 years. Although this long book was dismissed by a number of journalistic reviewers, it won praise from a good many novelists, playwrights and academics, including Fay Weldon, Beryl Bainbridge, Richard Adams, Ronald Harwood and John Bayley.


  • The Neophiliacs: A Study of the Revolution in English Life In The Fifties and Sixties (1969)
  • Goodbye London (written with John Betjeman’s daughter Candida Lycett Green) (1979)
  • The Seventies: Portrait Of A Decade (1980)
  • The Games War: A Moscow Journal (1981)
  • The Mad Officials: How The Bureaucrats Are Strangling Britain (1994)
  • The Castle of Lies (1996)
  • A Looking-Glass Tragedy. The Controversy Over The Repatriations From Austria In 1945, London, United Kingdom, Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd, First Edition (1997)
  • The Great Deception (2003)
  • The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories (2005)
  • Scared To Death: From BSE To Global Warming, Why Scares Are Costing Us The Earth (2007) ISBN 0826486142
  • The Real Global Warming Disaster, London, Continuum. (2009) ISBN 9781441110527


Booker's articles in The Daily Telegraph on asbestos and also on global warming have been challenged by George Monbiot of The Guardian, and Monbiot now offers the "Christopher Booker Prize for Climate Change Bullshit".

Booker's scientific claims, which include the false assertion that white asbestos (chrysotile) is "chemically identical to talcum powder" were also analysed in detail by Richard Wilson in his book Don't Get Fooled Again (2008). (The chemical formula for talc is H2Mg3(SiO3)4 or Mg3Si4O10(OH)2, while the formula for chrysotile, the primary ingredient of white asbestos, is Mg3(Si2O5)(OH)4. It is worth noting that even if the composition were identical, which it clearly isn't, the actual structure/connectivity is what is significant, a situation well known in chemistry as isomerism at a molecular level and polymorphism in the case of non-molecular materials or crystals. What makes chrysotile dangerous is not its composition - silicates are common - but its fibrous structure.

Wilson highlighted Christopher Booker's repeated endorsement of the alleged scientific expertise of John Bridle, who has claimed to be "the world's foremost authority on asbestos science", but who in 2005 was convicted under the UK's Trade Descriptions Act of making false claims about his qualifications, and who the BBC has accused of basing his reputation on "lies about his credentials, unaccredited tests, and self aggrandisement".

Christopher Booker's scientific claims about asbestos have been criticized several times by the UK government's Health and Safety Executive. In 2002, the HSE's Director General, Timothy Walker, wrote that Booker's articles on asbestos had been "misinformed and do little to increase public understanding of a very important occupational health issue."

In 2005, the Health and Safety Executive issued a rebuttal after Christopher Booker wrote an article suggesting, incorrectly, that the HSE had agreed with him that white asbestos posed "no medical risk".

In 2006, the HSE published a further rebuttal after Christopher Booker had claimed, again incorrectly, that the Health and Safety Laboratory had concluded that the white asbestos contained within Artex textured coatings posed "no health risk".

In May 2008, the Health and Safety Executive accused Booker of writing an article that was "substantially misleading". In the article, published by the Sunday Telegraph earlier that month, Booker had claimed, falsely, that a paper produced in 2000 by two HSE statisticians, Hodgson and Darnton, had 'concluded that the risk of contracting mesothelioma from white asbestos cement was "insignificant", while that of lung cancer was "zero"'.

In December 2008, an article by Booker was published in The Daily Telegraph, 'Facts melted by 'global warming'' and subsequently in The Australian, 'More inconvenient cold weather, snow and polar ice'. The article claims that "Without explanation, a half million square kilometres of ice vanished overnight." The claims were disputed by others, as an explanation for the apparently anomalous figures was provided on 13 December, before Booker's article was published on 21 December.

Criticism of Booker's comments on climate change in the UK's Daily Telegraph continued with an article by George Monbiot in The Guardian newspaper, dated 3 February 2009.

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