Born in Northampton, Chater attended Northampton Town and County Grammar School, and joined the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) whilst in the sixth form. Chater then studied at Queen Mary, University of London in London, gaining a first (BSc, 1951) and a PhD in chemistry in 1954. After a two years post-doctoral research fellowship at the Dominion Experimental Farm, Canada, and a year at Brussels University studying biochemistry, he returned to Britain to teach, initially at Northampton Technical High School, later Blyth Grammar School, Norwich, and from 1960 at the Luton College of Technology where he remained until 1969. He stood in the Luton by-election, 1963 as a CPGB candidate, but was placed last gaining only 593 votes. Despite this, he stood in Luton again in 1964, 1966 and 1970, again without success.
After being the Chair of the Communist Party of Great Britain during 1968–69, Chater began working full-time for the party as its head of press and publicity, and in 1974 he swapped jobs with George Matthews becoming editor of the Morning Star, a daily paper associated with the party. He attempted to get the party executive to prioritise increasing sales, with limited success. The paper, run by the People's Press Printing Society, and the party were coming into open conflict by 1982, disagreeing on approaches to the shop stewards' movement. The following year, the revisionist party leadership attempted to remove Chater's supporters from the executive of the PPPS, but the reverse occurred, and Chater's opponents were defeated instead. Chater, however, was expelled from the CPGB in January 1985. An opposition coalesced around Chater and Mick Costello, but they were defeated at the 1987 Party Congress and subsequently founded the Communist Party of Britain.
- "Tony Chater, editor of the Morning Star – obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 14 August 2016. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
- Graham Stevenson, "Chater Tony", Compendium of Communist Biographies
- 1963 By Elections, British Election Ephemera Archive
- "1976-1985: The Party and the paper attacked", Communist Party of Britain
- Keith Laybourn, Marxism in Britain: dissent, decline and re-emergence 1945-c.2000, pp.116-118
- "Communists Expel Hardline Editor". The Times. 14 January 1985. p. 2. Retrieved 13 December 2016. (subscription required)
- Peter Barberis et al, Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations, pp. 144-145
- Morning Star (4 August 2016), Morning Star editor from 1974-95 dies
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