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1992: Mellor resigns over sex scandal

David Mellor has resigned as heritage minister, blaming his departure on a constant barrage of hostile stories in the tabloid press.

In a letter to the prime minister he said he had become a burden to his colleagues and a point of weakness in the government, leaving him with no option to resign.

Mr Mellor's decision comes despite saying in an interview two days ago he would fight on. He also said John Major and not the tabloid editors should decide his fate.

There have been a constant stream of stories about the married MP in the press since the July disclosure of his affair with the actress Antonia de Sancha.

Embarrasment

Mr Mellor handed his letter of resignation to the prime minister at 1600 BST, after informing him of his decision before this morning's cabinet meeting.

Mr Major's response said he admired the courage of his colleague and only accepted the resignation with deep regret.

But Mr Mellor was reportedly told last night he was becoming an embarrassment to Mr Major in a phone call from Sir Marcus Fox - chairman of the influential backbench 1922 Committee.

The revelations about the heritage secretary's personal life were followed with allegations about his business and social connections.

In the past three weeks there have been newspaper reports about a free holiday in August 1990 as the guest of a Palestinian Liberation Official's daughter and another paid for by the ruler of Abu Dhabi.

But tabloid editors have rejected Mr Mellor's claim he was hounded out of office.

Bill Hagerty, editor of the People said: "This is the first time in ages that David Mellor has done the decent thing.

"We published the details of his affair with Antonia de Sancha because I felt it was in the public interest."

In Context
The Conservative government was beset by scandals throughout the early and mid-1990s.

Other high-profile resignations were Tim Smith, a junior Northern Ireland Minister and Sir Michael Hirst, Chairman of the Scottish Tories.

David Mellor remained the Conservative MP for Putney until losing his seat to Labour in the 1997 general election.

He went on to present programmes on BBC radio.

In 1998, he even began writing a column in the People newspaper - the tabloid largely behind his downfall.


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