David Mellor
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David Mellor

David Mellor

Secretary of State for National Heritage

11 April 1992 - 22 September 1992
John Major
Office Created
Peter Brooke
Chief Secretary to the Treasury

28 November 1990 - 11 April 1992
John Major
Norman Lamont
Michael Portillo
Minister for the Arts

26 July 1990 - 28 November 1990
Margaret Thatcher
Richard Luce
Tim Renton
Minister of State for Home Affairs

27 October 1989 - 26 July 1990
Margaret Thatcher
John Patten
Angela Rumbold
Minister of State for Health

25 July 1988 - 27 October 1989
Margaret Thatcher
Tony Newton
Anthony Trafford
Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

13 June 1987 - 25 July 1988
Margaret Thatcher
Tim Renton
William Waldegrave
Member of Parliament
for Putney

3 May 1979 - 8 April 1997
Hugh Jenkins
Tony Colman
Personal details
Born (1949-03-12) 12 March 1949 (age 71)
Wareham, Dorset, England
Political partyNone
Other political
Conservative (until 2003)[1][2]
Judith Mellor
(m. 1974; div. 1995)
Domestic partnerPenelope Lyttelton, Viscountess Cobham
Alma materChrist's College, Cambridge
ProfessionBarrister - not practising

David John Mellor (born 12 March 1949) is a British broadcaster, barrister, and former politician. As a member of the Conservative Party, he served in the Cabinet of Prime Minister John Major as Chief Secretary to the Treasury (1990-92) and Secretary of State for National Heritage (April-September 1992), before resigning in 1992. He was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Putney from 1979 to 1997.

Since leaving Parliament, Mellor has worked as a newspaper columnist, a radio presenter,[3] and an after-dinner speaker, served as Chairman of the government's 'Football Task Force', and established a successful career as an international business consultant and entrepreneur.

Education and early career

Born in Wareham, Dorset, Mellor was educated at Swanage Grammar School, and Christ's College, Cambridge, during which time he was Chairman of the Cambridge University Conservative Association[4] and a contestant on University Challenge. After briefly working for Jeffrey Archer (at the time a Member of Parliament (MP)) while studying for his bar exams, Mellor became a barrister in 1972. He ceased to practice in 1979 upon being elected as an MP, and he remains "non-practising".[5] He was appointed a Queen's Counsel in 1987;[6] this was as a result of a now-abolished convention whereby Members of Parliament who were also barristers could, having attained around 15 years' service as an MP, choose to be so appointed.[7] This was a controversial practice as the appointments were made without any need to demonstrate legal prowess.[4]

Parliamentary career

After contesting West Bromwich East in the general election in October 1974, he subsequently became the MP for Putney aged only 30 in the general election of 1979. He was re-elected on three further occasions in the general elections of 1983, 1987, and 1992.[8]

Government minister

Mellor was made Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Energy in 1981, thus becoming Mrs Thatcher's youngest minister, aged 32. He remained her youngest minister for four years.

In 1983, Mellor was appointed to the Home Office[9] where he was involved in several pieces of ground-breaking "Law and Order" legislation, including the pioneering Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984,[10] which amongst other things required police to tape-record all interviews with suspects in order for such evidence to be admissible at trial; The Prosecution of Offenders Act 1985 establishing the Crown Prosecution Service; legislation enabling the re-investigation of Miscarriages of Justice; and the significant vivisection "laboratory testing of animals" welfare legislation the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

The last Act, prepared by a coalition of animal welfarists and scientists led by Sir Andrew Huxley (President of the Royal Society), and was jointly launched by them, Mellor, and campaigner Dr Michael Balls - Father of Ed Balls MP (who went on to become the Labour Party's shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer) - gave the UK what is still the most advanced framework for the protection of laboratory animals.[]

In 1987, Mellor was promoted to the Foreign Office by Margaret Thatcher, and was made responsible for the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union (before the fall of the Iron Curtain). At this point he made an extended appearance on the Channel 4 discussion programme After Dark speaking about the Mafia.

In January 1988 during an official visit to Israel he protested angrily in front of press and TV cameras to an Israeli army colonel about what he saw as the "excessive" and brutal way troops were treating local Palestinians. Mellor's furious demand that it be stopped, and later statement to journalists that the treatment was "an affront to civilised values" was broadcast around the world, and caused an international incident for which Mellor refused point blank to apologise. He was later privately reprimanded by Thatcher.

He was briefly Minister for Health in 1988, where he was responsible for health service reforms, before he was made a Privy Councillor in 1990 by Margaret Thatcher, shortly before she resigned as Prime Minister.

Mellor was briefly Arts Minister in 1990 before entering John Major's new Cabinet as Chief Secretary to the Treasury in November 1990. He was interviewed in December 1991 on the TV programmne Hard News following the establishment of the Calcutt Review inquiring into Press Standards. Mellor claimed during the interview that "the press - the popular press - is drinking in the Last Chance Saloon"[11] and called for curbs on the "sacred cow" of press freedom.[12] The press, coming under heavy criticism at that time, reacted furiously, alleging that he was prejudging Sir David Calcutt's inquiry.

After the 1992 general election he remained a Cabinet Minister when he was made Secretary of State in the newly created Department of National Heritage (now the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport), during which period he was vernacularly known as the "Minister for Fun" after comments he made to the waiting press on leaving 10 Downing Street on his appointment.


Retaliation from the media for his "last chance saloon" comment came in July 1992, when Mellor's former mistress, actress Antonia de Sancha, sold her kiss and tell story of Mellor's extra-marital affair with her for £35,000. In a precursor to the "phone-hacking" scandal that would engulf Rupert Murdoch's News of the World in 2006 and later in 2010, their telephone conversations had been secretly recorded by de Sancha's landlord, an activity which at the time was entirely legal in England.[13]The Sun, relying on material supplied by publicist Max Clifford, made a number of lurid fictional claims about the relationship that de Sancha later admitted in a newspaper interview were entirely untrue:[14] this was subsequently confirmed by David Mellor in 2011 at the Leveson Inquiry into Press Behaviour.[15][16]

Prime Minister John Major supported Mellor throughout the incident, but the media maintained their interest. A libel case brought by Mona Bauwens against The People, which came to the High Court in September 1992, led to the revelation that Mellor had accepted the gift of a month-long holiday in Marbella from Bauwens for his family which took place in August 1990.[17] Mellor's connection to Bauwens, the daughter of Jaweed al-Ghussein, the finance director of the PLO[18] (formally the Palestine National Fund)[19] maintained the pressure on him. Mellor resigned on 24 September 1992.[20]

Backbench role

Following the Dunblane school shooting in 1996 when Thomas Hamilton shot dead 16 children and their teacher before killing himself, Mellor participated in a backbench revolt against the Government, which subsequently led to the almost complete banning of the owning and possession of handguns.[21][failed verification]

Defeat at 1997 general election

Mellor contested the 1997 general election, but was defeated by the Labour Party's Tony Colman as one of the most notable Tory casualties as Labour won by a landslide to end nearly 20 years of Conservative government. The election night was memorable for Mellor's showdown with the Referendum Party founder Sir James Goldsmith -- Mellor was taunted by Goldsmith and Michael Yardley, the Spokesperson for the Sportsman's Alliance[22] (who gave him a slow hand clap and shouted "Out! Out! Out!") during Mellor's concession speech. Mellor retorted:

... and Sir James... has got nothing to be smug about, and I would like to say that 1,500 votes is a derisory total. We have shown tonight that the Referendum Party is dead in the water, and Sir James can get off back to Mexico knowing your attempt to buy the British political system has failed!

In a later TV interview with BBC reporter Michael Buerk, moments after the declaration, Mellor again commented:

... I'm afraid the people of Putney said "up your hacienda, Jimmy!"

After Parliament

Mellor was chairman of the incoming Labour government's 'Football Task Force' from August 1997 until its dissolution in 1999. Among the recommendations accepted by the Labour government and introduced into law was the criminalisation of racial abuse by an individual spectator, as distinct from a group.

Mellor has also pursued a career in journalism, and has written columns for six national newspapers including the Evening Standard, The Guardian and The People, often on current affairs, but also his specialist interests of sport and the arts. Now a supporter of Chelsea, he regularly presented football-related programmes on BBC Radio 5 until 2001, and classical music programmes on BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio 3.

He currently presents David Mellor and The New Releases Show on Classic FM. He is Opera and Classical Music critic for British newspaper The Mail on Sunday. He is a regular contributor to the radio station LBC, on which he previously co-hosted a Saturday morning politics and current affairs discussion programme for eight years with former London Mayor Ken Livingstone. This continued until 2016, when Livingstone was sacked and Mellor's contract was not renewed.[23]

Since leaving office has pursued a career as an international business consultant focusing heavily on the Middle East and China. He has been a senior adviser to a wide range of blue-chip companies as diverse as Ernst and Young, BAE Systems, Aedas, and a major Gulf-based Islamic bank. He is also senior partner of an investment brokerage company with offices in London and Hong Kong.[]

In 2007, Mellor became a director and co-owner of Wharf Land Investments, a property company; he was one of two directors. The firm went into administration in 2013, with debts of several million pounds, after being successfully sued by a Russian investor called Pavel Lisitsin, who claimed it defrauded him of £2 million in a 2005 Berkshire land deal.[24]

In June 2010, it was reported in The Daily Telegraph[25] and the Daily Mirror[26] that Mr. Mellor called a chef a 'fat bastard' during a licensing wrangle at the River Lounge restaurant near his home at St Katharine Docks, East London. The articles claimed Mr. Mellor used bad language and told the chef he should 'do his £10-an-hour job somewhere else'.

In November 2014 The Daily Telegraph and The Independent reported[27][28] that Mellor had been secretly recorded by a taxi driver, saying "you think that your experiences are anything compared to mine?" In the secret recording of an encounter on 21 November, Mellor and the cab driver argue over which is the better route to their destination.[28] The article also alleged that he swore at the driver. According to accounts of the recording, Mellor said: "Of course you could apologise. I don't suppose a guy like you does apologise because you think you're a big shit, having driven a cab for ten years. You don't need to worry about someone who's been in the Cabinet, who's an award-winning broadcaster, who's a Queen's Counsel. Treat me like shit, ruin my wife's day ... and if you think you're going to be sarky with me, get a better education before you try being sarcastic with me. So if you're not going to say you're sorry just shut the fuck up." He also called the driver "sweaty, stupid little shit."[28] Mellor later told the media that he regretted losing his temper, but still blamed the driver for provoking him.[28]

Private life

Mellor married Judith on 20 July 1974. The couple had two sons before divorcing in 1995.[29]

Mellor lives with his partner of 20 years, Penelope Lyttelton, Viscountess Cobham.[30]


  1. ^ "BBC: Breakfast with Frost". BBC News. 11 May 2003. Retrieved 2014.
  2. ^ "Breakfast with Frost: Extract From Paper Review, David Mellor". BBC News. 11 May 2003. Retrieved 2014.
  3. ^ "Sony Radio Academy Awards 2012: Winners and nominees in full". Digital Spy. 15 May 2012. Retrieved 2014.
  4. ^ a b [1] Archived 21 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Bar Standards Board Website - Records 8 December 2010 -
  6. ^ "The London Gazette" (PDF).
  7. ^ "Souper, M." Archived from the original on 2 November 2013.
  8. ^ Putney (UK Parliament constituency)#Elections 1983-2010
  9. ^ The Daily Telegraph, 10 June
  10. ^ Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984
  11. ^ quoted in Roy Greenslade Press Gang: How Newspapers Make Profits From Propaganda, London: Macmillan, 2003 [2004], p.539, n.21, p739; Hard News, Channel 4, 21 December 1989, The Times, 22 December 1989, p.5
  12. ^ "Closing time at the Last-Chance Saloon". Sirc.org. Retrieved 2014.
  13. ^ Keren David (24 July 1992). "Antonia de Sancha: 'I am the real victim,'". The Independent. Retrieved 2014.
  14. ^ Euan Ferguson (2 November 2002). "Antonia de Sancha on moving forwards and emotional hangovers". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014.
  15. ^ "David Mellor". The Leveson Inquiry. Retrieved 2014.
  16. ^ "BBC ON THIS DAY 1992: Mellor resigns over sex scandal". BBC News. 24 September 1975. Retrieved 2014.
  17. ^ Stephen Ward "Mellor family guests of PLO man's daughter", The Independent, 15 September 1992
  18. ^ Anton La Guardia "Mona Bauwens to seek retrial as libel action ends in 'hung' jury Mona Bauwens to seek retrial", The Herald (Glasgow), 23 September 1992
  19. ^ "'I want to get rid of Arafat'", Daily Telegraph;, 28 August 2002
  20. ^ "1992: Mellor resigns over sex scandal". BBC News. 24 September 1992.
  21. ^ "BBC ON THIS DAY 1996: Handguns to be banned in the UK". BBC News. Retrieved 2014.
  22. ^ "David Mellor Loses Seat (1997)". Retrieved 2018 – via YouTube.
  23. ^ Johnston, Chris (28 May 2016). "Ken Livingstone radio show is dropped by LBC". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016.
  24. ^ https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/russian-wins-against-mellor-firm-wvjxlw306vg
  25. ^ "David Mellor ranted at '£10 an hour' chef in row over a noisy bar". The Daily Telegraph. 10 June 2010. Retrieved 2014.
  26. ^ "Tory David Mellor taped calling chef a 'fat b*****d' in noise rant - hear the audio". Daily Mirror. 10 June 2010. Retrieved 2014.
  27. ^ "Ex-cabinet minister David Mellor 'regrets' tirade against 'sweaty, stupid' taxi driver". The Daily Telegraph. 25 November 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  28. ^ a b c d Alexander, Ella (25 November 2014). "David Mellor 'regrets' angry row with 'sweaty stupid' taxi driver: 'Get a better education before you try being sarcastic with me'". The Independent. Retrieved 2014.
  29. ^ Andrew Hough "David Mellor: from lawyer to MP to 'football pundit'", The Telegraph, 10 June 2010
  30. ^ Catherine Pepinster "David Mellor to divorce", The Independent on Sunday, 6 November 1994

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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