David Mellor tipped to be BBC deputy chairman

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David Mellor, the disgraced former heritage secretary, has emerged as a front runner to become a Conservative deputy to Gavyn Davies, the BBC's new Labour-supporting chairman. Senior Tory supporters say that he is well qualified for the broadcasting job.

After being put in charge of the department now called Culture, Media and Sport by his close friend John Major, Mr Mellor was brought down by a tabloid newspaper account of his affair with an actress. He now hosts a weekly soccer chat show on BBC Radio Five Live.

Michael Portillo, the former defence secretary who lost the contest to become Tory party leader, is also being considered by an, as yet, unnamed panel.

Mr Portillo is said to be looking for a new role either in the City or television while remaining a backbench MP.

Iain Duncan Smith, the Conservative leader, will submit a list of possible Tory candidates to provide a political balance beside Mr Davies and the director-general, Greg Dyke, a fellow Labour supporter. Other Tory names include Michael Heseltine and Baroness Hogg, who is already on the BBC board.

Speculation that Mr Portillo could be on the shortlist was started by Downing Street to rebut claims that Mr Davies was one of "Tony's cronies".

Mr Davies, 50, is resigning from the Labour Party, and from his post as managing director at merchant bankers Goldman Sachs.

He has often been the butt of jealous speculation about his wealth. In spite of his socialist beliefs, he is said to have made £100m with with the flotation of the bank.