Mellor visits wife's parents as Major repeats support

DAVID MELLOR and his family visited his wife's parents for lunch yesterday after Mrs Mellor had denied newspaper reports that he had told them to stop talking to the media.

John Major, speaking to journalists in his Huntingdon constituency, continued his defence of Mr Mellor, stating that he would stay in his job as Secretary of State for National Heritage.

The Prime Minister said Mr Mellor was 'exactly the right man to be Secretary of State for the Heritage. He is going to go on being Secretary of State for the Heritage'. His renewed endorsement for Mr Mellor's determination to 'tough it out' came amid rumours of further damaging revelations planned in tomorrow's newspapers.

It was reported that Mr Mellor has said his wife's parents would never see their grandchildren again if they spoke to the media. But Mrs Mellor said she had been with her husband when the phone call to her parents, Edward and Joan Hall, was made, and 'he did not say that, or anything like that'. After lunch at their home in Upper Beeding, West Sussex, Mr Mellor, with all three generations of the family lined up beside him, said: 'We have put all of the misunderstandings of the past week behind us.' His children, Mark, 12 and Frederick, 8, had 'seen a lot of their grandparents and always will'.

He said that while he and his wife had 'a lot of talking to do', the family were 'all resolved that all these matters are going to be discussed in private'.

Conservative backbench doubts over whether Mr Mellor can survive have grown in the week since the original revelations about his alleged affair, chiefly through questions arising over his judgement as more details of the liaison with Antonia de Sancha and Mr Mellor's reported reaction to it have emerged.

Most Tory MPs, however, seem to believe that if he can survive the weekend without further significant damage he may well be able to stay on.

Mr Major insisted: 'We are absolutely committed to making sure we improve the profile and commitment to the arts, heritage and sport. David Mellor is very well qualified to deal with that job. He is doing it extremely well. He is going to go on doing it.'