David Mellor

For other people named David Mellor, see David Mellor (disambiguation).
The Right Honourable
David Mellor
Secretary of State for National Heritage
In office
11 April 1992  22 September 1992
Prime Minister John Major
Preceded by Office Created
Succeeded by Peter Brooke
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
In office
28 November 1990  11 April 1992
Prime Minister John Major
Preceded by Norman Lamont
Succeeded by Michael Portillo
Minister for the Arts
In office
26 July 1990  28 November 1990
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Richard Luce
Succeeded by Tim Renton
Minister of State for Home Affairs
In office
27 October 1989  26 July 1990
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by John Patten
Succeeded by Angela Rumbold
Minister of State for Health
In office
25 July 1988  27 October 1989
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Tony Newton
Succeeded by Anthony Trafford
Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
In office
13 June 1987  25 July 1988
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Tim Renton
Succeeded by William Waldegrave
Member of Parliament
for Putney
In office
3 May 1979  1 May 1997
Preceded by Hugh Jenkins
Succeeded by Tony Colman
Personal details
Born (1949-03-12) 12 March 1949
Wareham, Dorset, England
Political party None
Other political
Conservative (until 2003)[1][2]
Spouse(s) Judith Mellor (1974–1995)
Domestic partner Penelope Lyttelton, Viscountess Cobham
Alma mater Christ's College, Cambridge
Profession Barrister – not practising

David John Mellor QC (born 12 March 1949) is a former British politician, non-practising barrister, broadcaster, journalist and businessman. 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] 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, where he was Chairman of the Cambridge University Conservative Association[4] 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 Queens Counsel in 1987. He has not practised since being elected as an MP and remains "non practising".[5]

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.[6]

Government minister

In 1981, Mellor was made Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Energy, 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[7] where he was involved in several pieces of ground-breaking "Law and Order" legislation, including the pioneering Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984,[8] 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). 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"[9] and called for curbs on the "sacred cow" of press freedom.[10] 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 for National Heritage (now the Department for 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.[11] 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;[12] this was subsequently confirmed by David Mellor in 2011 at the Leveson Inquiry into Press Behaviour.[13][14]

John Major, then Prime Minister, supported Mellor through the incident, but the media maintained their interest. During 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.[15] Mellor's connection to Bauwens, the daughter of Jaweed al-Ghussein, the finance director of the PLO[16] (formally the Palestine National Fund)[17] maintained the pressure on him. Mellor resigned on 24 September 1992.[18]

Following the Dunblane school shooting in 1996 when Thomas Hamilton shot dead 16 children and their teacher before committing suicide, Mellor led a backbench revolt against the Government, which subsequently led to the almost complete banning of the owning and possession of handguns.[19]

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 the pro-handgun candidate (who gave him a slow hand clap and shouted "Out! Out! Out!") during his 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. 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 on the radio station LBC and co-hosted a Saturday morning politics and current affairs discussion programme for 8 years with the former London Mayor Ken Livingstone. This continued until 2016 when Livingstone was sacked, and Mellor's contract was not renewed.[20]

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 advisor 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 June 2010, it was reported in The Daily Telegraph,[21] the Daily Mirror[22] and the Daily Mail[23] 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[24][25] 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.[25]

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."[25] Mellor later told the media that he regretted losing his temper, but still blamed the driver for provoking him.[25]

It was later revealed that Mellor had been questioned by police over an alleged "racist rant" at a security guard in 2013. No charges were ever brought.[26]

Private life

Mellor married Judith on 20 July 1974; the couple had two sons, and they divorced in 1995.[27]

Mellor lives with his partner of 20 years, Penelope Lyttelton, Viscountess Cobham.[28]


Wikiquote has quotations related to: David Mellor
  1. "BBC: Breakfast with Frost". BBC News. 11 May 2003. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
  2. "Breakfast with Frost: Extract From Paper Review, David Mellor". BBC News. 11 May 2003. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
  3. "Sony Radio Academy Awards 2012: Winners and nominees in full". Digital Spy. 15 May 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
  4. Archived 21 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. Bar Standards Board Website – Records 8 December 2010 -
  6. Putney (UK Parliament constituency)#Elections 1983–2010
  7. Daily Telegraph, 10 June
  8. Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984
  9. 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
  10. "Closing time at the Last-Chance Saloon". Sirc.org. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
  11. Keren David (24 July 1992). "Antonia de Sancha: 'I am the real victim,'". The Independent. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
  12. Euan Ferguson (2 November 2002). "Antonia de Sancha on moving forwards and emotional hangovers". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
  13. "David Mellor". The Leveson Inquiry. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
  14. "BBC ON THIS DAY 1992: Mellor resigns over sex scandal". BBC News. 24 September 1975. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
  15. Stephen Ward "Mellor family guests of PLO man's daughter", The Independent, 15 September 1992
  16. 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
  17. "'I want to get rid of Arafat'", Daily Telegraph;, 28 August 2002
  18. "1992: Mellor resigns over sex scandal". BBC News. 24 September 1992.
  19. "BBC ON THIS DAY 1996: Handguns to be banned in the UK". BBC News. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
  20. Johnston, Chris (28 May 2016). "Ken Livingstone radio show is dropped by LBC". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  21. "David Mellor ranted at '£10 an hour' chef in row over a noisy bar". Daily Telegraph. 10 June 2010. Retrieved 26 Nov 2014.
  22. "Tory David Mellor taped calling chef a 'fat b*****d' in noise rant – hear the audio". Daily Mirror. 10 June 2010. Retrieved 26 Nov 2014.
  23. "'Do your £10-an-hour job somewhere else': David Mellor's furious rant at 'fat' chef in row over restaurant's 'naked parties'". Daily Mail. 10 June 2010. Retrieved 26 Nov 2014.
  24. "Ex-cabinet minister David Mellor 'regrets' tirade against 'sweaty, stupid' taxi driver". Daily Telegraph. 25 Nov 2014. Retrieved 25 Nov 2014.
  25. 1 2 3 4 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 25 November 2014.
  26. Andrew Hough "David Mellor: from lawyer to MP to 'football pundit'", The Telegraph, 10 June 2010
  27. Catherine Pepinster "David Mellor to divorce", The Independent on Sunday, 6 November 1994
Wikiquote has quotations related to: David Mellor
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Hugh Jenkins
Member of Parliament for Putney
Succeeded by
Tony Colman
Political offices
Preceded by
Richard Luce
Minister of State for the Arts
Succeeded by
Tim Renton
Preceded by
Norman Lamont
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Succeeded by
Michael Portillo
New office Secretary of State for National Heritage
Succeeded by
Peter Brooke
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