UK

Former minister David Mellor apologises for taxi rant

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Media captionDavid Mellor: "I don't know what possessed me to lose it with that cabbie in the way I did"

Former Conservative cabinet minister David Mellor has apologised for his outburst against a London taxi driver.

Mr Mellor was secretly recorded swearing at the driver and arguing about the best route to take.

Mr Mellor said on his LBC radio show he could not understand what made him "lose it" and admitted he had "lost his case" with the way he spoke.

The broadcaster said he would also make a "substantial" donation to the cab drivers' Christmas children's appeal.

Mr Mellor said: "I can't think what possessed me to lose it with that cabbie the way I did.

"Ok, I had a case, but I threw it away by the way I spoke and I'm really, really sorry about that.

"And I especially want to apologise to you, our listeners, for trying your patience and risking my own credibility with you by speaking like I did.

"Anyway, it's water for me at the next celebratory lunch. I've definitely made that decision."

'Unequal society'

The Sun newspaper reported that Mr Mellor had called the man "stupid" and told him to "shut up".

He also recounted some of his lifetime achievements. Mr Mellor told the paper the driver had "seriously provoked" him.

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Image caption David Mellor accompanied his partner Penelope, Lady Cobham, to an event at Buckingham Palace before taking the taxi

Guardian columnist Owen Jones told the BBC the situation was indicative of a "wider problem" whereby "politics has become so unrepresentative of the British population".

"If you get so many people from such a narrow, privileged background and they associate with each other, and they've not necessarily mixed with people from a wide range of backgrounds, you do get these sorts of attitudes," he argued.

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Media captionWhat London taxi drivers think of David Mellor's apology

Noting that Mr Mellor is "from a far less privileged background than some other politicians", Mr Jones said: "In a very unequal society, you're inevitably going to get a situation where those who have benefited look down their noses at the less fortunate."

'Day ruined'

Mr Mellor got into the taxi with partner Penelope, Lady Cobham, outside a restaurant in Marylebone High Street, central London, at 17:50 GMT on Friday, 21 November.

The couple wanted to go five miles to St Katharine Docks, east London, and were charged £29, the paper said.

In the recording, Mr Mellor, 65, who served as national heritage secretary in Sir John Major's government, is alleged to have said: "You don't know as much about London as I do."

Mr Mellor is also heard accusing the man of ruining Lady Cobham's day.

Earlier on Friday Lady Cobham, who is chairwoman of tourism body Visit England, had attended Buckingham Palace to be appointed a CBE for her services to tourism.

The driver passed the recording to the tabloid newspaper.

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