Charles Clarke was born in London on 21st September 1950.
He was educated at Highgate School, London.
From 1969 to 1973 he read mathematics (Part 1A) and economics (Part 2) at Kings College Cambridge, graduating BA (Hons) with a 2(i). In 1971-2 he was sabbatical President of the Cambridge Students Union and in 1973-74 a part-time teacher of mathematics at Willesden High School, Brent London. From 1974-1977 he was Treasurer, then President, of the National Union of Students.
In 1977-8 he was the UK representative on the preparatory Committee for the World Youth Festival in Cuba.
From 1978-80 he worked for Hackney People in Partnership, which was part of the Government’s urban renewal programme.
In 1980 he was elected Labour councillor for Chatham ward in the London Borough of Hackney and between 1980 and 1986 he gained extensive experience of local government, becoming vice chair of economic development and then chair of the housing committee.
From 1980-83 he worked as a part-time researcher for Neil Kinnock MP, then Opposition Spokesman on Education. During this period he did various other part-time jobs, including teaching mathematics on the Fresh Horizons course at the City Literary Institute in London, and organizing for the Gulbenkian Foundation the Save our Cities Conference in Liverpool.
From 1983-92 he was political adviser and then Chief of Staff to the Labour Party Leader and Leader of the Opposition, Neil Kinnock MP.
From 1992-7, he established and ran a public affairs management consultancy, Quality Public Affairs, which advised organizations how best to make their case.
In May 1997 he was elected Labour Member of Parliament for Norwich South, which he remained until May 2010.
In 1997-98 he was a member of the Treasury Select Committee, and then in July 1998 he became Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for School Standards. In July 1999 he was appointed Minister of State at the Home Office, with particular responsibility for the police.
After the 2001 General Election, he joined the cabinet as Labour Party Chair and Minister without portfolio.
He was appointed Secretary of State for Education and Skills in October 2002, and then in December 2004 Home Secretary, leaving the Home Office on May 5th 2006, returning to the backbenches.
Charles Clarke married Carol Pearson in 1984 and they have two sons, Christopher and Matthew. They live in Norwich and London.