Profile - Cecil Sharpley (1908-1985)
Cecil was born in Gloucestershire, England in 1908 and travelled to Australia supported by the Big Brother movement at the age of 20. He initially worked as a farm labourer but soon found himself unemployed. He found refuge in the Public Library of Victoria, where he immersed himself in works on socialism, economics, politics and philosophy. When he eventually found work as an office-boy in an advertising agency in 1933, he joined the Federated Clerks’ Union and also became a member of the Australian Labor Party (ALP).
In 1935 Cecil joined the Victorian Branch of the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) and became a full-time functionary within a year. He unsuccessfully stood for the CPA in the seat of Footscray in 1943. In 1946 he was elected to the State Executive of the CPA.
Just two years after his rise to the State Executive, Cecil left the Party and relocated to Shepparton. He drew great attention to the Party when he sensationally sold his expose to the Melbourne Herald and published a series of ‘tell-all’ stories detailing his allegations of fraud and corruption within the Party and the trade union movement. This was a key instigator for the Royal Commission into the activities of the CPA in Victoria in 1949. Cecil gave over 100 hours of evidence to the Commission. He was turned on by many who were loyal to the Party and required bodyguards for his protection. Ultimately the Commission’s report concluded that much of Cecil’s evidence was unreliable and only one case of ballot-rigging could be proved.
At the end of 1949 Cecil separated from his wife Veronica and relocated back to Britain. He continued to speak about the communist threat and published a memoir, The Great Delusion, in 1952.
Cecil died of coronary inclusion in London on 6 July 1985.
Deery, P 2012, Cecil Sharpley (1908-1985), Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, accessed <http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/sharpley-cecil-herbert-14879>