Mellor awarded title of 'Clumsiest Communicator': Royal Family is runner-up in 'media disasters' league table, reports Will Bennett

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The Independent Online
DAVID MELLOR is not racked by self-doubt when it comes to dealing with the media. Despite his resignation from the Cabinet in unfortunate circumstances, hardly a day now passes without him appearing on television or radio.

However, the manoeuvrings of the former Secretary of State for National Heritage in the wake of the disclosure of his affair with the actress, Antonia de Sancha, earn him the title of Britain's Clumsiest Communicator in a report published today by a public relations company.

In image-enhancement terms, he appears more naff than Madonna, more disastrous than Gerald Ratner, less successful than the BBC and more cack-handed than the Royal Family.

The report by the company SFB says he 'caused more than nine weeks of almost continuous embarrassment for the Prime Minister, his party and his family as a result of his handling of the story of the affair'. Had Mr Mellor lain low and 'appeared suitably shame-faced and determined to sort out his marriage problems' after the story broke a year ago, then he might have fared better, it says.

'What actually transpired was first a very public row with his in- laws and then an attempt to make amends by staging a photocall which involved not only his wife and in-laws but also the children he had said four days earlier he was seeking to protect.

'Not surprisingly, the photocall was perceived as a cynical move with a number of commentators describing it as a charade.' Those who pointed to the talents that could be wasted if he resigned being outweighed by a view that what he had done was unacceptable, the report said.

The report adds that if he had resigned immediately, he would have been spared the slow political death that accompanied a series of appearances by Miss de Sancha organised by her agent, Max Clifford.

It continues: 'Cecil Parkinson had proved that there can be life for a politician after an affair . . . He achieved that, however, by withdrawing quickly and quietly from the public spotlight. David Mellor did not take that route.'

A spokeswoman for Mr Mellor said yesterday: 'I do not think that he would want to comment on this.'

The runner-up for the title is the Royal Family, who won it in 1989. The report says: 'Aside from the general behavioural problems of the younger members of the family, the most fundamental communications error made by the Royals has been that of allowing the question of their finances to fester for so long.'

The rest of the top 10 disasters in descending order are British Airways, the BBC, Gerald Ratner, Madonna, the pro-foxhunting lobby, Neil Kinnock, Michael Jackson and Michael Heseltine.

The report defines them as successful people or organisations who let themselves down 'through a lack of understanding of the wider implications of the moves they make and the words they utter.'

(Photograph omitted)