Paul Flather, journalist, politician, human rights and civil society activist, academic leader, writer, charity supporter and chair, has been involved with the Devas Club since the mid 1980s, initially in his capacity as the Inner London Education Authority representative elected for Tooting and as Vice-Chair and then Chair of the its influential Further and Higher Education Committee – which included responsibility for some 4,000 youth projects across London. He has seen life the club ebb and flow, but always coming out on top despite repeated funding cuts and challenges, changes in staffing and support, serving on the Management Board and Board of Trustees. He has taken a particular pleasure in reviving, maintaining and developing links between Devas and University College, Oxford.
He is currently a Fellow (academic member) of Mansfield College, Oxford and for 17 years served as founding Secretary–General of the Europaeum club of leading European universities. His own research is on democracy, corruption, ethics and specifically on Indian politics since its independence.
He spent eight years as a journalist working with the BBC, Times newspapers, deputy-editor of the New Statesman, and has written widely and published many articles, chapters, helped edit several collections, reports and books. After the 1989 revolutions he was appointed founding Secretary-General and Chief Executive of the Central European University, set up by George Soros, creating many new intellectual programmes in the region. In 1994 he was appointed Director of External and International Relations for Oxford University, running alumni, media, community, governmental, international and publications relations, and was a Fellow of Corpus Christi College. In 2000, he joined Mansfield and took over the Europaeum, founding joint teaching programmes, international research programmes, helped the consortium to grow into a club of 12 leading European universities with a high Europe-wide reputation, and many key figures on the board of trustees, lecturing all over Europe, chairing workshops, conferences and summer schools, running the Oxford Jenkins Scholarships scheme.
In the 1980s he worked actively with dissident movements in Central Europe, and with race equality groups in the UK. He is a founder of the British Organisation of People of Indian Origin, served on The RoundTable Commonwealth journal board since 2004, coordinated high-level international seminars on fighting corruption for the British Council, and was expert advisor to the European Commission for its first multi-million Europe-India programme in 1997. He has chaired the Noon Educational Foundation which supports Pakistani scholars since 2000. His family had to flee Lahore to Delhi in the 1947 Partition crisis.