'Collective' ruling on privacy

DAVID MELLOR said last night that the decision on whether to bring in a privacy law would not be taken by him alone but by ministers collectively.

The Secretary of State for National Heritage was speaking on Channel 4 News in his first major interview since his alleged affair with the actress Antonia de Sancha came to light six weeks ago.

He was asked whether, in the light of that experience, he thought he could be objective in his assessment of Sir David Calcutt's forthcoming supplementary report on privacy. He said: 'These decisions are not taken by one man. They are collective decisions.'

He emphasised that decisions of that magnitude 'will be taken by ministers collectively'.

Earlier, Mr Mellor indicated that he would fight his corner for the arts in the public spending round. 'We know that the economic downturn has continued for longer than anyone hoped. It is going to be a very difficult public expenditure round. I shall do the best I can for the interest groups I represent.'