Les Barclay was educated at Westcliff High School for Boys.
He joined the Radio Development Laboratories of E K Cole Ltd as an apprentice, becoming
the senior apprentice. During his apprenticeship he obtained his degree through study
at the Southend Municipal College, and also obtained exemption from the Brit IRE
(later IERE) graduateship exams. He then joined the television research labs at EK
He joined the Royal Society International Geophysical Year Antarctic Expedition and
spent the two years, 1957 and 1958, in the Antarctic, at Halley Bay, undertaking
ionospheric research. On return to the UK he spent a year at the Radio Research Station,
Slough, analysing and preparing reports on the Antarctic studies. He also wrote the
report on sledging and surveying.
In 1960 he joined the propagation group at the Marconi Research Laboratories where
he undertook further research and developed systems of propagation prediction for
system planning and operation. Notably, he developed both manual and computer-based
systems for the prediction of MF and HF system performance, and the techniques for
daily short term forecasting of ionospheric conditions. Prediction services were
established for the Marconi Company, for the Ministry of Defence and for other customers.
He became head of the ionospheric propagation section. He acted as Consultant to
the Local Radio Association, making proposals for independent local radio. He also
undertook the task of research theme co-ordinator for communications and navigation
across the whole of the Marconi laboratories.
In 1977 he joined the UK government service in what became the Radiocommunications
Agency (now Ofcom). While there he became Deputy Director for Research and Radio
Technology, and had experience of responsibility across all aspects of the Agency's
work. He managed the Agency's research programme, and in particular the National
Radio Propagation Research Programme. He led and co-ordinated the UK preparation
and participation in CCIR (now ITU-R) studies, and participated as a delegate or
deputy head of delegation at a number of World Administrative Radio Conferences.
In1993 he chaired the first Radiocommunication Assembly of the International Telecommunication
Union. He was chairman of CCIR Study Group 6 (ionospheric propagation) from 1978
to 1993, and chairman of ITU-R Study Group 3 (radiowave propagation) from 1993 to
1997. He is now vice chairman of the ITU-R Co-ordinating Committee for Vocabulary.
He has participated as a UK delegate in various World Radiocommunication Conferences
up to the most recent (2007), at the 1998 and 2002 ITU Plenipotentiary Conferences,
and at the 2002 World Telecommunication Development Conference. He continues to participate
in ITU studies to the present.
He lectures regularly on radio regulation, spectrum management and propagation at
several UK universities, and has lectured on these topics at the International Center
for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, and to the radio regulation authorities in Kazakhstan
and Malta. He has been chairman of the organising committees for the series of IEE
residential courses on radiowave propagation.
In 2000 he participated as an expert member in the government appointed Independent
Expert Group on the Safety of Mobile Phones (the Stewart committee), and is currently
the deputy chairman of the Dept of Health management committee for the mobile telecommunications
and health research programme.
In 2005 he was appointed chairman of the DTI Measurement Advisory Committee, which
oversaw the progamme at the National Physical Laboratory and other standards laboratories,
and served until the reorganistion of DTI in 2007.
He is project monitor for a Technology Strategy Board (previoulsy DTI) research project
on future mobile radio service provision.
Les Barclay has been a member of the National Council of the English Folk Dance and
Song Society. He is currently chairman of the EFDSS editorial advisory committee,
and President of the Essex Folk Association. He is a folk dance teacher and caller.