John Whitehorn

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John Roland Malcolm Whitehorn (19 May 1924 - 30 May 2003) was a business lobbyist who worked at the Confederation of British Industry dealing with "labour relations and industrial policy". He was also involved in the BBC and the British Council.

Early life

Whitehorn went to Rugby public school and then attended Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1943 he joined the Royal Airforce and trained in what was then Southern Rhodesia. According to his Times obituary Whitehorn "joined a group of young and idealistic leftwingers" and became for a time a Stalinist. He gave one of his friends a book of poems, one of which began with the words, "Josef Stalin, I salute you". [1]

In the CBI

After the war Whitehorn returned to Cambridge to complete his studies, where he read economics. In 1947 he joined the Federation of British Industry. His first post was as private secretary to the then director-general, Sir Norman Kipping, whom Whitehorn came greatly to admire. [2]

He was deputy director of CBI's Overseas Directorate from 1960-65, and then director until 1968. [3] The Overseas Directorate, which was later renamed the International Affairs Directorate, provided services to CBI members with overseas interests, monitoring Government foreign policy and maintaining links with international organisations.

Whitehorn then served as deputy director-general of CBI until his retirement in 1978. In 1972 he wrote a Memo to CBI members which was leaked to Time Out. In it Whitehorn urged member companies of the CBI to increase their funding to five organisations working against "subversion" in British industry. The organisations were the Economic League, Common Cause, Aims of Industry, Industrial Research and Information Services and the Institute for the Study of Conflict. [4]

Other affiliations



  1. 'John Whitehorn', The Times, 12 June 2003
  2. 'John Whitehorn', The Times, 12 June 2003
  3. ‘WHITEHORN, John Roland Malcolm’, Who Was Who, A & C Black, 1920–2007; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2007
  4. Front page, Morning Star, 31 January 1976
  5. ‘WHITEHORN, John Roland Malcolm’, Who Was Who, A & C Black, 1920–2007; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2007