David Mellor
Secretary of State for National Heritage
In office
11 April 1992 – 22 September 1992
Prime MinisterJohn Major
Preceded byOffice Created
Succeeded byPeter Brooke
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
In office
28 November 1990 – 11 April 1992
Prime MinisterJohn Major
Preceded byNorman Lamont
Succeeded byMichael Portillo
Minister for the Arts
In office
26 July 1990 – 28 November 1990
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byRichard Luce
Succeeded byTim Renton
Minister of State for Home Affairs
In office
27 October 1989 – 26 July 1990
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byJohn Patten
Succeeded byAngela Rumbold
Minister of State for Health
In office
25 July 1988 – 27 October 1989
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byTony Newton
Succeeded byAnthony Trafford
Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
In office
13 June 1987 – 25 July 1988
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byTim Renton
Succeeded byWilliam Waldegrave
Member of Parliament
for Putney
In office
3 May 1979 – 8 April 1997
Preceded byHugh Jenkins
Succeeded byTony Colman
Personal details
Born (1949-03-12) 12 March 1949 (age 73)
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 QC (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. He also served as Chairman of the government's 'Football Task Force'.

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) while studying for his bar exams, Mellor was called to the Bar in 1972. He ceased to practise in 1979 upon being elected as an MP, and he remains "non-practising".[citation needed] He was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1987.[5]

Parliamentary career

After contesting West Bromwich East in the general election in October 1974, Mellor became the MP for Putney in the general election of 1979. He was re-elected in the general elections of 1983, 1987, and 1992.[citation needed]

Government minister

Mellor was made Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Energy in 1981.

In 1983, Mellor was appointed as a minister in the Home Office[6][full citation needed] where he was involved in several pieces of legislation, including the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 (which established the Crown Prosecution Service). He was also involved with legislation enabling the re-investigation of miscarriages of justice, and with the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.[citation needed]

In 1987, Mellor was moved to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office by Thatcher, and was made responsible for the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union (before the revolutions of 1989).[citation needed] At this point he made an extended appearance on the Channel 4 discussion programme After Dark speaking about the Mafia.

Mellor was briefly Secretary of State for Health and Social Care in 1988, where he was responsible for health service reforms. He was made a Privy Councillor in 1990 by Thatcher, shortly before she resigned as Prime Minister.[citation needed]

Mellor was briefly Minister for the Arts in 1990 before entering John Major's new Cabinet as Chief Secretary to the Treasury in November of that year. He was interviewed in December 1991 on the TV programmne Hard News following the establishment of the Calcutt Review inquiring into Press Standards. Mellor said during the interview that "the press – the popular press – is drinking in the last chance saloon"[7] and called for curbs on the "sacred cow" of press freedom to curb their more extreme activities.[8]

Following the 1992 United Kingdom general election Mellor remained a Cabinet Minister as Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in the newly created Department of National Heritage (now the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport), during which period he was occasionally referred to as the "Minister for Fun" after comments he made to the waiting press on leaving 10 Downing Street on his appointment.[citation needed]


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. Their telephone conversations had been secretly recorded by de Sancha's landlord, an activity which at the time was legal in England.[9] The Sun, relying on material supplied by the publicist Max Clifford, made a number of untrue claims about the relationship, that de Sancha later admitted.[10] This was subsequently confirmed by David Mellor in 2011 at the Leveson Inquiry into Press Behaviour.[11][12]

The Prime Minister John Major supported Mellor, 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.[13] Mellor's connection to Bauwens, the daughter of Jaweed al-Ghussein, the finance director of the PLO[14] (formally the Palestine National Fund)[15] maintained the pressure on him. Mellor resigned on 24 September 1992.[16]

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[17] (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!

Goldsmith would die from pancreatic cancer two months later on 18 July 1997.

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. He regularly presented football-related programmes on BBC Radio 5 until 2001, and classical music programmes on BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio 3 for six years.

Since 2000, Mellor has also been a radio presenter at Classic FM (UK).[18] 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.[19]

In June 2010, it was reported in The Daily Telegraph[20] and the Daily Mirror[21] that 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 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[22][23] 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. The article alleged that he swore at the driver. Mellor later told the media that he regretted losing his temper but blamed the driver for provoking him.[23]

Private life

Mellor married Judith Hall in Worthing on 20 July 1974. The couple had two sons before divorcing in 1995.[24]

Mellor currently lives with his partner, Penelope Lyttelton, Viscountess Cobham.[25]


  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. ^ [1] Archived 21 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "The London Gazette" (PDF).
  6. ^ The Daily Telegraph, 10 June
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ "Closing time at the Last-Chance Saloon". Sirc.org. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
  9. ^ Keren David (24 July 1992). "Antonia de Sancha: 'I am the real victim,'". The Independent. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
  10. ^ Euan Ferguson (2 November 2002). "Antonia de Sancha on moving forwards and emotional hangovers". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
  11. ^ "David Mellor". The Leveson Inquiry. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
  12. ^ "BBC ON THIS DAY 1992: Mellor resigns over sex scandal". BBC News. 24 September 1975. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
  13. ^ Stephen Ward "Mellor family guests of PLO man's daughter", The Independent, 15 September 1992
  14. ^ 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
  15. ^ "'I want to get rid of Arafat'", Daily Telegraph;, 28 August 2002
  16. ^ "1992: Mellor resigns over sex scandal". BBC News. 24 September 1992.
  17. ^ "David Mellor Loses Seat (1997)". Retrieved 30 April 2018 – via YouTube.[dead YouTube link]
  18. ^ "About". davidmellorconsultancy.co.uk. Retrieved 21 May 2022.
  19. ^ Johnston, Chris (28 May 2016). "Ken Livingstone radio show is dropped by LBC". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  20. ^ "David Mellor ranted at '£10 an hour' chef in row over a noisy bar". The Daily Telegraph. 10 June 2010. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
  21. ^ "Tory David Mellor taped calling chef a 'fat b*****d' in noise rant – hear the audio". Daily Mirror. 10 June 2010. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
  22. ^ "Ex-cabinet minister David Mellor 'regrets' tirade against 'sweaty, stupid' taxi driver". The Daily Telegraph. 25 November 2014. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  23. ^ a b 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.
  24. ^ Andrew Hough "David Mellor: from lawyer to MP to 'football pundit'", The Telegraph, 10 June 2010
  25. ^ Catherine Pepinster "David Mellor to divorce", The Independent on Sunday, 6 November 1994