Tory backbench group may call for Mellor to go: National Heritage Secretary fights back as details of second free holiday are disclosed

DAVID MELLOR tried to rescue his career last night with live television interviews as senior Tory MPs prepared to demand his resignation.

The executive committee of the 1922 Committee - representing Tory backbenchers - is expected to make it clear today that Mr Mellor should go. That would seal his fate.

Earlier, Mr Mellor had mounted a robust counter-attack. The Secretary of State for National Heritage strode into a City guild hall in London packed with journalists, including some of the editors of newspapers calling for his resignation, and said: 'What do you want to know?'

Mr Mellor used a charity event to answer for the first time detailed charges that have led to the calls for his resignation.

'I've had the feeling there are some who would like to hound me out of office. I think there is at least one newspaper which is not used to having its editorials ignored by Conservative prime ministers and is determined to hound me from office.

'I accept that is a judgement for others. I believe there is a reasonable and rational explanation to everything, beyond the initial business with Antonia (de Sancha) which I have to accept. Those who think that ministers should not survive if they have an affair . . . well, they've got me.'

He said he was willing to resign if he was an embarrassment to the Government, but, sipping from a glass of red wine and surrounded by reporters, Mr Mellor said he had not broken any ministerial rules on the acceptance of gifts.

Mr Mellor continued his counterattack during a live interview on News at Ten, when he gave a vigorous and fluent defence of his conduct. He then moved to BBC 2's Newsnight studio, where he blamed his difficulties on 'four or five tabloid editors' and added: 'The crucial point is who decides who is a member of the British cabinet, the Prime Minister or the editor of the Daily Mail.'

His remarks came as details emerged that the minister enjoyed a second free foreign family holiday. This was at new year 1989/90 when the Mellors were in the Middle East as guests of Sheikh Zayed, the ruler of Abu Dhabi, who controlled the Bank of Credit and Commerce International which was shut down by banking authorities last July.

Mr Mellor was entertained on an island owned by Sheikh Zayed in the Persian Gulf. Another guest was Mona Bauwens, whose High Court libel case first focused attention on a free holiday she had provided for the Mellors at a villa in Marbella.

Mr Mellor's office told the Independent last week that the minister had gone to Abu Dhabi on an official visit. But last night it was confirmed that he had been invited 'in his private capacity'.

The disclosure could intensify the pressure for Mr Mellor to resign, but his office said the Foreign Office and the Home Office had both known about the visit.

Mr Mellor said last night: 'I had a series of meetings with (Sheikh Zayed) and with other senior ministers. It was known by the Foreign Office and approved by them.'

Bryan Gould, Labour's spokesman for National Heritage, wrote to the Prime Minister last night over allegations that Mr Mellor had asked the British embassy to sort out the plumbing at his Marbella villa. Mr Gould called for Mr Mellor's resignation.

Mr Mellor said that the water system had stopped working. Because none of the guests could speak Spanish, he telephoned the consulate for assistance. They gave him the name of a water company and the matter was put right.

Despite Mr Mellor's spirited performances last night, one senior member of the 1922 committee said: 'His chances of surviving until the weekend are nil.

'If he had any sense, he would go before we meet. He is quite honestly now an embarrassment to the party and an embarrassment to John Major.'

The Prime Minister has stood by Mr Mellor when many expected him to be sacked. But Mr Major's loyalty has been stretched by the continuing revelations of Mr Mellor's acceptance of a pounds 10,000 holiday with his family at a luxury Marbella villa with Mrs Bauwens, daughter of a leading member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

'Interfering' Mellor, page 2

Leading article, page 28

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker