April 25th, 2014 by Roger Darlington

Roger Darlington is half English and half Italian and he enjoys travelling to new countries and experiencing new cultures. His career was in three phases: six years in the political world, 24 years as a national trade union official, and 17 years as a consumer advocate – the common theme being his commitment to social justice.

In 1971, he obtained a First Class Honours Degree in Management Sciences from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology where his final year options were Organisational Behaviour and Industrial Relations. He spent a year (1969-70) as sabbatical President of the Students’ Union.

Following graduation, he spent six years working for the Labour Party/Labour Government as a Research Assistant/Special Adviser to Rt Hon Merlyn Rees MP in the latter’s capacity as Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland (House of Commons 1972-74), Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Northern Ireland Office 1974-76) and Home Secretary (Home Office 1976-78). He fought the two General Elections of 1974 as a Labour candidate.

For 24 years, he was a National Official with what was the Post Office Engineering Union (1978-85), then became the National Communications Union (1985-95), and is now the Communication Workers Union (1995-2002).

For the first six years, he was a Research Officer in the Research Department concentrating mainly on technological and regulatory issues. He was then promoted to the main negotiating grade of Assistant Secretary and, over the next six years, held a variety of negotiating posts. Next followed five years with responsibility for policy and international matters.

Then, in January 1995, the creation of the Communication Workers Union – a merger of the former National Communications Union and the former Union of Communication Workers – saw him return to the Research Department as Head of Research. The Department briefs Officers and Executive on all postal, telecommunications, and related matters. As well as managing the Department, he took special responsibility for strategic, technological and regulatory issues in both the postal and telecommunications industries. He took early retirement from the CWU in March 2002.

For the next 17 years, before retiring completely in 2019, he held a series of positions – often as chair – in a variety of consumer organisations as follows:

  • He was the first independent Chair of the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), a body established by British Internet service providers to combat illegal content, especially child abuse images, on the UK Internet. He held this position from January 2000 to December 2005, serving the maximum six year term of office.
  • He was Chairman of the Greater London Region and a Council Member of Postwatch, the watchdog for postal consumers. He held this position from April 2006 to September 2008 when the organisation was merged with two other consumer groups.
  • He was a Member of the Board of Consumer Focus, which brought together the work of Postwatch, Energywatch and the National Consumer Council. He held this position from January 2008 to January 2012 when his term expired.
  • He was the Member for England on the Communications Consumer Panel – formerly the Ofcom Consumer Panel – which is the statutory consumer body for broadcasting and telecommunications issues. He held this position for a record eight and a half years from February 2004 to July 2012 when his term expired.
  • He was the Chair of the DCMS Consumer Expert Group, a body which advised Government on switchover of television and radio. He held this position from June 2011 to March 2014 when the CEG was disbanded.
  • He was a member of the Policy Stakeholder Committee of Nominet, the body which operates the .uk domain name system for the Internet. He held this position from September 2010 to December 2014 when he stepped down from the Committee.
  • He was the consumer affairs specialist on the EE External Advisory Board which provided the company with independent advice on its responsibility agenda. He held this position from July 2013 to November 2015 until BT took over EE.
  • He was the Chair of the Customer Challenge Group at South East Water which supplies drinking water to 2.1 million customers in Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire. He held this position from April 2012 to December 2016 when his term expired.
  • He was a Non-Executive Director on the Board of the Good Things Foundation (previously the Online Centres Foundation and the Tinder Foundation), which co-ordinates the work of 3,800 online training centres in England. He held this position from February 2012 to December 2017 when his term expired.
  • He was a Non-Executive Member on the 4G/TV Coexistence Oversight Board of at800, the body responsible for the mitigation measures for interference by 4G mobile services of digital terrestrial television. He held this position from October 2012 to December 2018 when the Board was reconstituted.
  • He was the Chair of the Post Offices Advisory Group of Citizens Advice (formerly Consumer Focus and Consumer Futures), which brings together stakeholders with an interest in the future of post offices. He held this position from October 2008 to March 2019 when he stepped down.
  • He was the Chair of the Essential Services Access Network which brings together consumer groups and regulatory organisations in four essential sectors: communications, water, energy and financial services. He held this position from January 2016 to April 2019 when he stepped down.
  • He was the Chair of the Consumer Forum for Communications which brought together consumer and citizen groups with an interest in the sectors – telecommunications, broadcasting, spectrum and postal services – regulated by Ofcom. he held this position from December 2014 to June 2019 when the Forum was ended.

Meanwhile, over a period of 16 years (2003-2018), he wrote a total of 100 columns on communications issues for Prospect, the trade union for engineers, scientists, managers and specialists, and its predecessor unions.

Roger Darlington’s many private interests include reading (especially modern history), writing (especially short stories), the cinema (almost all genres), music (particularly classical), aviation (especially Second World War), and the social and economic aspects of information technology. He has written a biography – published in English and Czech – of a Second World War night intruder ace. He is an intense user of the Net and maintains his own web site and blogs.

Above all, he loves spending time with his adorable granddaughters Catrin and Kara.


  • Adrian Thompson

    Hello Mr Darlington,

    I came across your blog when looking for information on Xaverian College, which I attended from 1973 to 1979.

    I was very interested to see the comments from former students, some of which I knew by name if not personally.

    Mr De Podesta, who also attended the same primary school as I did, falls into that category.

    Looking at your site has encouraged me to think about my own school career and perhaps supply some input of my own eventually.

    So may I thank you for taking the trouble to create your site and gather the comments from so many former Xavs’ folk.

    I hope you are well in this strange time of lockdown and coping with the restrictions imposed on us all.

    Kind regards,
    Adrian Thompson.


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