IT IS the perennial cry of the taxi driver: “Guess who I had in my cab the other day?”
‘Unfortunately for one London cabbie it was the former Conservative Cabinet minister David Mellor, who is said to have hurled abuse at the man behind the wheel, calling him a “sweaty, stupid little s**t”.
The former politician became infamous during the 1990s after a kiss-and-tell tabloid tale in which he was alleged to have had an affair with an actress while wearing a Chelsea football strip.
While the affair was true, the sartorial choice of nightwear was an invention of the publicist Max Clifford, recently convicted and imprisoned on charges of sexual abuse.
Mr Mellor has now re-appeared in the tabloid press after the Sun revealed he was recorded swearing at a taxi driver and arguing about the best route to take on a journey through central London following a Buckingham Palace investiture.
According to the recording secretly made by the taxi driver, Mr Mellor called the man “stupid” and told him to “shut up” before going on to regale him with the edited highlights of his lifetime achievements.
However, Mr Mellor later said the driver had “seriously provoked” him. He and his partner Penelope, Lady Cobham, hailed the taxi outside a restaurant in Marylebone High Street at 5:50pm on Friday. The couple wanted to go five miles to St Katharine Docks in east London, and were charged £29.
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In the recording, Mr Mellor, 65 – who served as national heritage secretary in Sir John Major’s government – is alleged to say: “You don’t know as much about London as I do.”
He adds: “You’ve been driving a cab for ten years? I have been in the Cabinet, I am an award-winning broadcaster, I’m a Queen’s Counsel. You think your experiences are anything compared to mine? Just shut up. Drive me whichever way you want, and keep a civil tongue in your head.”
The QC and former Conservative MP is also reported to have called the cab driver, who has not been named, a “sweaty, stupid little s**t”.
The former politician also accuses the man of ruining Lady Cobham’s day. Earlier on Friday, Lady Cobham, chairwoman of tourism body VisitEngland, had attended Buckingham Palace to be appointed a CBE for her services to tourism.
Mr Mellor resigned as heritage minister in 1992, blaming his departure on a constant barrage of hostile stories in the tabloid press, including the revelation of his affair with an actress . Since losing his seat in the Commons in 1997 he has gone on to develop a successful career as a radio broadcaster.
Mr Mellor said yesterday: “This man seriously provoked me and ruined a wonderful day. Once I had lost my temper, which I regret, he then secretly recorded me. I will leave the public to judge his actions.”
During the audio Mr Mellor, who is also alleged to have told the driver to “f*** off”, said he would name the driver and discuss the incident on his radio show, which he co-presents with former London mayor Ken Livingstone on Saturday mornings on LBC.
The taxi driver, who wished to remain anonymous, said he had never “been on the receiving end of something like it”.
He said: “Mr Mellor made me feel like I am something he’d found on the bottom of his shoe. He spoke down to me like I am a second-class citizen. He said: ‘If you want to be sarcastic with me, then go away and get an education before you talk to me like that’.”
Yesterday, Piers Morgan, the former newspaper editor and TV presenter, tweeted: “This tape is outrageous. David Mellor, you’re a loathsome snob. I hope London’s black cab drivers now boycott David Mellor. Looks like he could do with a few walks anyway.”
Mr Mellor has been secretly recorded in the past. In 2010 he was taped yelling abuse at a chef as he complained about the noise coming from a restaurant close to his home. He called Stephane Ale a “fat b******” and shouted: “F*** off and do your £10-an-hour job somewhere else.”
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