Keith Hellawell

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Keith Hellawell
Born (1942-05-18) 18 May 1942 (age 72)
Kirkburton, Yorkshire, England
Occupation Businessman

Keith Hellawell (born 18 May 1942) is a British businessman. He serves as the Chairman of Sports Direct.[1] He is a former British police officer.[2]


Early life[edit]

Keith Hellawell was born 18 May 1942 in Kirkburton, near Huddersfield, Yorkshire, UK. He went to school at Kirkburton Secondary Modern School until the age of 15, then went to Dewsbury Technical College and Barnsley College of Mining. He started work as a coal miner in 1958 but left that job to pursue a career in the Huddersfield Borough Police in 1962.

Police career[edit]

He became Britain's youngest police sergeant, aged 23. Rising through the ranks, including working in CID, he was appointed Assistant Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police in 1983, then Deputy Chief Constable of Humberside Police in 1985. He received the Queen's Police Medal for Distinguished Service in 1990. He also completed an MSc in Social Policy from Cranfield University and an external degree in Law from the University of London. He later became Chief Constable of Cleveland police and in 1993 became Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police. He has strong views on terrorists, child murderers and police murderers: he believes they should face the death penalty[1].

He was the New Labour government's drugs advisor and so called "drugs czar" from January 1998. He resigned from his position in July 2002 over the government's reclassification of cannabis from a Class B to a Class C substance. Differences in opinion with the government over strategy towards tackling drugs were common during his tenure. In the position he was paid £106,057 a year. Use of all drugs increased as did drugs deaths in the four years of his tenure. [3]

In November 2002 HarperCollins published his autobiography called The Outsider:the autobiography of one of Britain's most controversial policemen. It was serialised in the Mail on Sunday. Two former detectives, Roy Smith and Laurence Andrews, took objection to the book which claimed they had conspired to pervert the course of justice when investigating a murder in 1968 in Aspley. They sued for libel at the Royal Courts of Justice in London and won their case in January 2004. Since 15 May 2006 Hellawell has been Chairman of com/directors Goldshield Group PLC.

Personal life[edit]

He is married and has three children. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws by the University of Bradford in July 1998, and an honorary degree by Leeds Metropolitan University in 1997. He was the police chief in Bradford in the 1970s. In August 2003, the chalet of his holiday home in the south of France burnt down in a forest fire [2]. He is writing a crime novel.


  1. ^ Neil Craven, Interview: Sports Direct's Keith Hellawell,, January 24, 2010
  2. ^ A career of controversy: Keith Hellawell, BBC News, July 10, 2002
  3. ^