David Mellor under pressure to apologise to cabbie he called 'smart-arsed little b******'

Former Tory minister recorded having a row with a London taxi driver

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The Independent Online

Former cabinet minister David Mellor is under mounting pressure to make a public apology for abusing a taxi driver during an angry expletive-filled exchange.

Mellor, once the Conservative Culture Secretary, was caught out when the taxi driver decided to record the argument on his phone.

During a row over which way they should be going, Mr Mellor swore no fewer than 17 times at the driver, whom he accused of being a “sweaty, stupid little shit”.

The former politician was travelling home with his partner Lady Penelope Cobham, who had received a CBE at Buckingham Palace earlier that day for her services to the tourism industry.

Details of the argument, which took place in London on Friday night, emerged in The Sun this morning.

“You've been driving a cab for 10 years; I've been in the Cabinet, I'm an award-winning broadcaster, I'm a Queen's Counsel. You think that your experiences are anything compared to mine? Just shut up... and don't give me a lot of shit,” he told the driver.

The row then got personal, with Mr Mellor saying: “And if you think you're going to be sarky with me, get a better education before you try being sarcastic with me. So if you're not going to say you're sorry just shut the fuck up.”

David Mellor with Lady Penelope Cobham, after she had received a CBE at Buckingham Palace (PA)

He continued to swear at the driver, who he called a “smart-arsed little bastard” and repeatedly threatened to name him on a Saturday radio show he fronts. In the event, the former politician elected not to carry out the threat.

The 38-year-old driver, from London, said: “Politicians say they are in touch with ordinary, hardworking people, but he hasn't got a clue. They just don't get it.” Referring to Mr Mellor, the driver, who does not want to be named, added: “He's got no idea about my life and how tough it is. And more to the point he doesn't care.” He accused the former politician of treating him like “a second-class citizen”.

Mr Mellor stopped short of an apology today, telling The Mirror: “This man seriously provoked me and ruined a wonderful day.”

He added: “Once I had lost my temper, which I regret, he then secretly recorded me. I will leave the public to judge his actions.”

But his outburst has prompted a furious response from trade unionists. Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT, said: “Our black cab members across London are considering a boycott of the Tory toff David Mellor over his outrageous, pompous and disgraceful tirade against one of their colleagues.”

He added: “His sneering and snobbish verbal assault says it all about the elite that run this country and their attitude towards the working classes that they expect to transport them.”

And Simon Rush, president of the professional drivers branch of the GMB, demanded “a public apology” from Mr Mellor for his “loutish verbal attack”.

Steve McNamara, general secretary, the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, told The Independent: “I strongly suspect he’s had more than a glass of Chablis or whatever it is former Tory politicians drink these days and the sensible thing to do would be to issue an apology to the cabbie in question.”

People should not worry about being recorded by taxi drivers, he added: “You cannot be recorded in a cab, obviously what’s happened is the driver’s used a mobile phone app.”

He defended Mr Mellor: “I’ve picked him up myself; he’s actually a very nice guy despite everything that he’s said. He’s not a bad guy. Unluckily for him, he got recorded. I’ve never ever heard of a passenger being recorded before in this way. But I don’t think he was set up.”

Mr Mellor’s agent did not respond to a request for comment.