David Mellor


David Mellor
The Right Honourable
David Mellor
QC
Secretary of State for National Heritage
In office
11 April – 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
Member of Parliament
for Putney
In office
3 May 1979 – 1 May 1997
Preceded by Hugh Jenkins
Succeeded by Tony Colman
Personal details
Born 12 March 1949 (1949-03-12) (age 62)
Wareham, United Kingdom
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Judith Mellor (1974–1995)
Alma mater Christ's College, Cambridge
Profession Barrister - not practising

David John Mellor, QC (born 12 March 1949) is a British politician, non-practising barrister, broadcaster, journalist and football pundit. 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 following a series of scandals in 1992. He was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Putney from 1979-97. Since leaving Parliament, he has worked in the media and served as Chairman of the government's 'Football Task Force'.

Contents

Political 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[1] 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. He is currently not practising.[2] After contesting West Bromwich East in the general election in October 1974, he became the MP for Putney in the 1979 general election.

Mellor served a prolonged spell as a 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.[citation needed] 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 the "Minister for Fun" after comments he made to the waiting press on leaving 10 Downing Street on his appointment.

Scandals

Mellor had claimed during a television interview that December that "the press - the popular press - is drinking in the Last Chance Saloon"[3] and called for curbs on the "sacred cow" of press freedom.[4] The press was coming under heavy criticism at this time, but subsequent events led these comments to rebound on him.

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 secretly recorded by de Sancha's landlord, an activity which is legal in England.[5]. The Sun, relying on a story supplied by publicist, Max Clifford, reported that Mellor had asked to make love to de Sancha while wearing a Chelsea F.C. replica kit. It was also reported that de Sancha had sucked Mellor's toes.

Mellor managed to survive in office after this incident, though it allowed Fleet Street and the tabloids to round on him. 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 Dhabi. 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. This came just seven days after the front page headline "Now We've All Been Screwed by the Cabinet" which was a double pun on Mellor's sex scandal as well as the "Black Wednesday" financial disaster the previous day which saw interest rates rise from 10% to 12% and the devalued Pound sterling removed from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism.[6]

Mellor later suggested that he was hounded out of office, but tabloid editors quickly rejected this; indeed Bill Hagerty, editor of The People, said, "This is the first time in ages that David Mellor has done the decent thing".[7]

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 Tory rule. The election night was memorable for Mellor's showdown with the 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 concession speech. Mellor retorted:

... and Sir James... you have nothing to be smug about... I think we have shown tonight that the Referendum Party is dead in the water, and you can get back off to Mexico in the knowledge that your attempt to buy the British political system has failed.

After Parliament

Mellor was chairman of the incoming Labour government's 'Football Task Force' from August 1997 until its dissolution in 1999.

Mellor has also pursued a career in journalism, 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, and is a regular contributor on LBC Radio, often in conversation with former London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, as well as occasionally hosting his own show on the station.

Private life

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

Mellor currently lives with his girlfriend, Penelope, Viscountess Cobham, in the Dockmaster's House, a 19th-century listed building at the gateway to St Katharine Docks, east London. 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".[8]

References

  1. ^ http://www.cuca.org.uk/alumni-club/former-chairmen/
  2. ^ Bar Standards Board Website - Records 8 December 2010 -
  3. ^ 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
  4. ^ "Closing time at the Last-Chance Saloon?", Social Issues Research Centre, 2000. Retrieved on 4 May 2007.
  5. ^ [1] [24 July 1992] Independent website.
  6. ^ [2]
  7. ^ "1992: Mellor resigns over sex scandal", [24 September 1992] BBC website. Retrieved on 4 May 2007.
  8. ^ Anil Dawar "'Build a tower block? Not in our dockyard'", Telegraph 30 May 2006. Retrieved on 4 May 2007.

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Hugh Jenkins
Member of Parliament for Putney
19791997
Succeeded by
Tony Colman
Political offices
Preceded by
Richard Luce
Minister of State for the Arts
1990
Succeeded by
Tim Renton
Preceded by
Norman Lamont
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
1990–1992
Succeeded by
Michael Portillo
New office Secretary of State for National Heritage
1992
Succeeded by
Peter Brooke

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