Charles Alexander James Whelan (born 3 February 1954, north-east Surrey) is former political director of the British trade union Unite. He rose to prominence as spokesman for Labour politician Gordon Brown from 1992 to 1999. He has also worked as a presenter on BBC Radio.
Early life and career
Whelan's father was a Conservative-voting civil servant. Between 1968 and 1974, Whelan went to Ottershaw School, a state boarding school in Ottershaw, Surrey, which had been established in 1948 by Surrey County Council (SCC) as a boarding school for boys of 12 to 18 years of age. It was the first of its kind in the country to be entirely in the hands of a Local Education Authority.
At Ottershaw, he was a "breakfast boy" – he prepared and delivered meals for older boys. He was captain of the football team. He studied Politics at the City of London Polytechnic (which became the London Guildhall University in 1992).
In 1980 Whelan became a foreign exchange dealer. From 1981 to 1992 he was a researcher and assistant to Jimmy Airlie of the Amalgamated Engineering Union. He was a member of the Communist Party during the 1980s.
Resignation and later career
Whelan resigned as Brown's spokesman in 1999 after leaking information relating to Peter Mandelson's resignation over a home loan. He has since carved out a career in the media, presenting shows for BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Radio Scotland. Whelan currently works as political director for Unite, Britain's biggest trade union.
In April 2009, it was revealed that Whelan was copied in on emails from Damian McBride which proposed to publish lies about opposition politicians and their families on the internet. The ensuing scandal forced McBride's resignation, followed by personal letters of regret from the Prime Minister to those named. A leading article in The Times on 16 April 2009 called on Unite to review its relationship with Whelan as a result.
In popular culture
- "Old boys society". The Ottershaw School Old Boys' Society. Archived from the original on 31 December 2008. Retrieved 28 March 2010.
- "Charlie Whelen the boarding school breakfast boy". London: Daily Mail. 21 March 2010. Retrieved 28 March 2010.
- Shipman, Tim (17 March 2010). "New age of the union dinosaur". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved 28 March 2010.
- "Whelan denies ill feeling at the top". BBC News. 14 January 1999.
- "Strathspey and Badenoch Herald | Features | Spin doctor casts around on the fly". Strathspey-herald.co.uk. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
- Booth, Jenny (16 April 2009). "Dealing with Whelan". London: Times Online. Retrieved 28 March 2010.
- "The Lion and the Unicorn". The New Statesman. 6 October 2003. Retrieved 28 March 2010.