He became the leader of Social Credit in 1953 when it reluctantly decided to become a political party rather than supporting other parties. Social Credit got a surprising 11% of the party vote in the 1954 general election, but it dropped to 7% in the 1957 general election. For that and for the criticism of Social Credit by the Royal Commission on Monetary Policy (which Owen had not attended, as he was overseas) he was criticised at the 1958 conference, and he resigned from the League shortly after.
He was born in Wellington, and educated at Christchurch Boys' High School and Nelson College. He was an industrial chemist, and founded his cosmetics and toiletries manufacturing company Wilfrid Owen New Zealand Limited in 1938. He was a resident of Sumner, Christchurch, and died in Princess Margaret Hospital, Christchurch aged 86.
- Crusade: Social Credit’s drive for power by Spiro Zavos, pages 75–80 (1981, INL Print, Lower Hutt) ISBN 0-86464-025-0
- Obituaries: The New Zealand Herald & The Press of 11 August 1984