Charles Colson, Nixon aide involved in Watergate, dies aged 80

Charles Colson arrives at a court in Washington to be sentenced for obstructing justice in the Watergate case, 1974 Colson was sent to prison in 1974

Related Stories

Charles Colson, an adviser to President Richard Nixon who was involved in the Watergate scandal and later became an evangelical preacher, has died aged 80.

He was known as the "hatchet man" for Mr Nixon and served seven months in jail for his role in discrediting a political opponent.

Later, he started a prison ministry and campaigned for penal reform.

The father of three died in hospital in Fairfax, Virginia, of complications from a brain haemorrhage.

Charles "Chuck" Colson had a reputation as a hard-nosed political operator and was once described by President Nixon as the son he never had.

He helped the Republican candidate to a landslide victory in 1972, saying he would "walk over his own grandmother" to ensure Richard Nixon's re-election.

Renewed faith

In 1971, he wrote a now infamous "enemies list" naming his boss's major political critics and opponents.

His role in the Watergate scandal was limited, but he pleaded guilty to obstructing justice after he was involved in earlier efforts to discredit Daniel Ellsberg, who had leaked secret government documents about the Vietnam War, which became known as the Pentagon Papers.

A break-in was organised at the office of Mr Ellsberg's psychiatrist, in a search for documents which could be used to blacken his reputation.

President Nixon's right-hand man served seven months in jail, although he was not convicted of organising the Ellsberg or Watergate break-ins themselves.

He came out of prison claiming to be a new man, renouncing the political machinations of his past and embracing his religious faith.

Chuck Colson spent the next 35 years as a leading campaigner for prison reform, founding the Prison Fellowship Ministries in 1976.

He was named as one of Time magazine's "25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America" in 2005, having written over 200 books in his lifetime.

Later in life he lived in Naples, Florida, and in 2000 the state Governor Jeb Bush restored his civil rights, including the right to vote, which he lost after he was convicted.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More US & Canada stories



  • Lucy FranklinDouble trouble

    'Rising house prices left me high and dry - twice!'

  • NS Savannah, 1962Nuclear dream

    The ship that totally failed to change the world

  • Ed Miliband takes a selfie at a Cambridge hairdressersNo more photo ops?

    Why is Ed Miliband drawing attention to his public image?

  • Espresso cup7 days quiz

    Which city serves the strongest cup of coffee?

  • Glasgow 2014 quaichs and medalsQuaich guide

    What do the Scottish gifts given to Games medallists symbolise?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.