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David John Mellor QC (born 12 March 1949) is a Britishmarker politician, barrister, broadcaster, journalist and football pundit, who has long been involved with the Conservative Party.

Political career

Educated at Swanage Grammar Schoolmarker, he attended Christ's Collegemarker, Cambridgemarker, where he was Chairman of the Cambridge University Conservative Association and a contestant on University Challenge. After briefly working for Jeffrey Archer, then a Member of Parliament (MP), while studying for his bar exams, Mellor became a barrister in 1972 and a Queens Counsel in 1987. After contesting West Bromwich Eastmarker in the general election in October 1974, he became the MP for Putneymarker in the 1979 general election.

Mellor served a prolonged spell as junior minister in several departments in the 1980s, including the Home Office. 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.

When announcing the Committee on Privacy and Related Matters under David Calcutt in the House of Commonsmarker in 1989, Mellor claimed that some sections of the popular press were "drinking in the Last-Chance Saloon" and called for curbs on the "sacred cow" of press freedom. The press was coming under heavy criticism at this time, but his comments rebounded on him later.

After the 1992 general election he was made Secretary of State in the newly created Department for National Heritage, during which period he was vernacularly known as 'Minister for Fun', after comments which he made to the waiting press on leaving 10 Downing Street on his appointment.

Scandal

In July 1992, Mellor was involved in a kiss and tell scandal in which actress Antonia de Sancha sold her story of Mellor's extra-marital affair with her, for £30,000. Their conversation had been recorded without his consent, but it turned out bugging your own property, as de Sancha's landlord had done, was not illegal. The publicist Max Clifford told the story that Mellor had asked to make love to her whilst he was dressed in his Chelsea F.C. kit, a story that appeared on the front page of The Sun newspaper. Another true allegation was de Sancha's sucking of one or more of his toes.

He managed to survive in office after this ridicule, though it allowed Fleet Streetmarker and the tabloids to round on Mellor. The satirical programme Spitting Image portrayed Mellor as having halitosis, with a green plume emanating from the puppet's mouth. Evidence emerged that he had enjoyed a free holiday in August 1990 as the guest of Mona Bauwens, a daughter of the Palestine Liberation Organization official Jaweed al-Ghussein, and another paid for by the ruler of Abu Dhabimarker. It was this that led to his resignation rather than the earlier affair. After three weeks of revelations, Sir Marcus Fox, chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, reportedly told Mellor in a phone call that he was becoming an embarrassment to John Major. Mellor resigned on 24 September 1992, causing The Sun to jeer "From Toe Job to No Job" on its front page.

Mellor later suggested that he was hounded out of office, but tabloid editors quickly rejected this. Bill Hagerty, editor of The People, said, "This is the first time in ages that David Mellor has done the decent thing".

He contested the 1997 general election, but was defeated by Labour's Tony Colman. The election night was more memorable for Mellor's showdown with Referendum Party founder Sir James Goldsmith — Mellor was taunted by Goldsmith and a crowd of other candidates (who gave him a slow hand clap and shouted "Out! Out! Out!") during his speech. Mellor retorted:

After Parliament

He was chairman of the incoming Labour government's "Football Task Force" from August 1997 until its dissolution in 1999. He has also pursued a journalism career, and has written for the Evening Standard, The Guardian and The People, usually on sport or the arts. 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 If You Like That, You'll Like This and The New CD Show on Classic FM.

Private life

Mellor married Judith on 20 July 1974. They divorced in March 1995.

Mellor currently lives with his partner, Penelope, Viscountess Cobham, in the Dockmaster's House, a 19th-century listed building at the gateway to the St Katharine Docksmarker, east Londonmarker. On 30 May 2006 it was reported that Mellor has spoken out against the proposed construction of a 17-storey block of flats in St Katharine Docks. Mellor said, "There is no design involved. It would look tawdry down the wrong end of a beach in Torremolinos. This isn't a case of just not wanting it in my backyard. This area is historically significant with listed buildings and it's next to the Tower of London, which is a World Heritage Site".

References

  1. "Closing time at the Last-Chance Saloon?", Social Issues Research Centre, 2000. Retrieved on 4 May 2007.
  2. "1992: Mellor resigns over sex scandal", [24 September 1992] BBC website. Retrieved on 4 May 2007.
  3. Anil Dawar "'Build a tower block? Not in our dockyard'", Telegraph 30 May 2006. Retrieved on 4 May 2007.


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