Fred Mulley

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Mulley
Fred Mulley.PNG
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
In office
4 May 1979 – 14 June 1979
Leader James Callaghan
Preceded by Ian Gilmour
Succeeded by William Rodgers
Secretary of State for Defence
In office
10 September 1976 – 4 May 1979
Prime Minister James Callaghan
Preceded by Roy Mason
Succeeded by Francis Pym
Secretary of State for Education and Science
In office
5 March 1975 – 10 September 1976
Prime Minister Harold Wilson
James Callaghan
Preceded by Reg Prentice
Succeeded by Shirley Williams
Minister of Transport
In office
7 March 1974 – 5 March 1975
Prime Minister Harold Wilson
Preceded by John Peyton (Transport Industries)
Succeeded by John Gilbert
Member of Parliament
for Sheffield Park
In office
23 February 1950 – 9 June 1983
Preceded by Thomas Burden
Succeeded by Constituency Abolished
Personal details
Born (1918-07-03)3 July 1918
Died 15 March 1995(1995-03-15) (aged 76)
Political party Labour
Alma mater Christ Church, Oxford
St Catharine's College, Cambridge
Military service
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Worcestershire Regiment
Rank Sergeant
Battles/wars World War II

Frederick William Mulley, Baron Mulley PC (3 July 1918 – 15 March 1995) was a British Labour politician, barrister-at-law and economist.

Early life

Mulley attended Warwick School between 1929 and 1936. He served in the Worcestershire Regiment in the Second World War, reaching the rank of sergeant, but was captured in 1940 and spent five years as a prisoner of war in Germany. During this time he obtained a BSc in economics and became a chartered secretary.[1]

At the end of the war, he received an adult scholarship to Christ Church, Oxford, and after a brief spell on an economics fellowship at the University of Cambridge (1948–50) he trained as a barrister, being called to the Bar in 1954.

Parliamentary career

Mulley had joined the Labour Party since 1936 and in 1945 he unsuccessfully contested the constituency of Sutton Coldfield. He became Member of Parliament for Sheffield Park in 1950, a position he held until retiring at the 1983 General Election.

During a long career in politics he held many ministerial positions including Minister of Aviation (1965–67), Minister for Disarmament (1967–69), and Minister of Transport (1969–70, 1974–75). While at the Transport Ministry he believed it would be inappropriate to be seen to be a car driver. Although he owned an Austin Maxi, his wife was the sole user of it during this period.[2]

In 1975 Harold Wilson brought him to the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Education and Science, and in 1976 became Secretary of State for Defence.

He is best remembered for falling asleep during the Queen's Jubilee Review of the Royal Air Force at RAF Finningley in 1977 when there was considerable noise around him. Having a small sleep during exercise was referred to by members of the RAF as having a "Fred Mulley". It was suggested in the satirical magazine Private Eye that Mulley was guilty of treason (then still a capital offence) for having slept with the Queen.

House of Lords

After retiring from the House of Commons in 1983, he was created a life peer as Baron Mulley, of Manor Park in the City of Sheffield on 30 January 1984,[3] and he held a variety of directorial positions.


A main road in the Lower Don Valley in Sheffield is named after him.


  1. Worcestershire Regiment (29th/36th of Foot) Web site
  2. "Election special: Who's hand on the wheel?". Autocar. 141 (nbr 4067): Pages 39–40. 5 October 1974.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. The London Gazette: no. 49636. p. 1499. 2 February 1984.

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Thomas Burden
Member of Parliament for Sheffield Park
Constituency abolished
Political offices
Preceded by
John Peyton
as Minister of State for Transport Industries
Minister of Transport
Succeeded by
John Gilbert
Preceded by
Reg Prentice
Secretary of State for Education and Science
Succeeded by
Shirley Williams
Preceded by
Roy Mason
Secretary of State for Defence
Succeeded by
Francis Pym
Party political offices
Preceded by
James Callaghan
Chair of the Labour Party
Succeeded by
Tom Bradley