Damian Collins has served as the Conservative MP for Folkestone and Hythe since 2010.
In October 2016 he was elected by the House of Commons as Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, having previously served as a member of the committee. In this role he led the committee’s inquiries into doping in sport, fake news, football governance, homophobia in sport, and the impact of Brexit on the creative industries and tourism. Damian is also the Chairman of the Conservative Arts and Creative Industries Network.
During the Coalition government Damian served between 2014-15 as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to then Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond. From 2012 to 2014 he was PPS to the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers.
Damian was born in Northampton in 1974. He is married to Sarah, they have a daughter Claudia and a son Hugo, and they live in Elham in Kent, and in London. Damian grew up in Herefordshire and was educated at St. Mary’s High School in Lugwardine, and then studied for his A levels at Belmont Abbey School, Hereford. He graduated in Modern History from St Benet’s Hall, University of Oxford in 1996, and in 1995 was also President of the Oxford University Conservative Association. Damian’s career before politics was in the advertising and communications industries, mostly at the M&C Saatchi advertising agency in London where he worked from 1999 to 2008.
‘Sassoon and I both read modern history at Oxford and he was MP for Folkestone and Hythe from 1912 until his death in 1939, the seat I hold 100 years later. So it is fitting that I have written the first biography focusing exclusively on his extraordinary life.’
In addition to Damian’s work in parliament, he is a trustee of the Shepway Sports Trust, the Folkestone Youth Project and is Chairman of Step Short, a heritage charity working to commemorate Folkestone’s role in the First World War. On 4th August 2014 HRH Prince Harry of Wales opened the Step Short memorial arch in Folkestone to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the War, and the memory of the ten million journeys by servicemen through the town between 1914 and 1919.
Damian is a keen sports fan, a lifelong supporter of Manchester United, and a member of the MCC. He has also made recent, occasional appearances for the Commons and Lords rugby and cricket clubs. Damian has written for The Times, the Daily Telegraph and Newsweek, and his first book, Charmed Life: the phenomenal world of Philip Sassoon, was published by HarperCollins in 2016.
The story of a fascinating man who connected the great politicians, artists and thinkers at the height of British global power and influence.
A famed aesthete, politician and patron of the arts, Philip Sassoon lived in a world of English elegance and oriental flair. Gathering a social set that would provide inspiration for Brideshead Revisited, Sassoon gave parties at which Winston Churchill argued with George Bernard Shaw, while Noël Coward and Lawrence of Arabia mingled with flamingos and Rex Whistler painted murals as the party carried on around them.
Not merely a wealthy socialite, Sassoon worked at the right hand of Douglas Haig during the First World War and then for Prime Minister Lloyd George for the settlement of the peace. He was close to King Edward VIII during the abdication crisis, and Minister for the Air Force in the 1930s. And yet as the heir of wealthy Jewish traders from the souks of Baghdad, he craved acceptance from the English establishment.
In Charmed Life, Damian Collins explores an extraordinary connected life at the heart of society during the height of British global power and influence.
‘The first history of Sassoon’s life, offering an extraordinary insight into a colourful, quintessential aristocrat’
— Vanity Fair
‘An elegant, playful and fluent book … widely researched, canny in its political insights, sympathetic but not syrupy about Sassoon’s glamour’
— Richard Davenport-Hines, Guardian
‘A readable and lively picture of this extravagant creature’
— Literary Review
‘It is re-assuring to know that the MP elected by fellow members to lead the hugely important DCMS committee can not only write but has a fine cultural antenna and sweeping, almost Churchillian grasp of pre-war European and British politics … This sharply written biography is psychologically exhausting to read’
— William Cash, Spear's Magazine
‘The politician, arts patron, aviator and lavish host who called himself a ‘worthless loon’ is brought fluently to life’
‘Enlivened with a rich crop of anecdotes … Sassoon emerges as a delicate, almost fairy-tale figure … as a supreme networker, a dedicated politician and a lover of beautiful things’