September 24, 1992: David Mellor goes ‘from toe job to no job’ after papers expose affair

The revelation of an affair with actress Antonia de Sancha led to David Mellor resigning as Heritage Minister - the latest in a long list of scandals to hit John Major's government.

In 1991, speaking about the Calcutt Review into press standards, David Mellor said that “the popular press is drinking in the Last Chance Saloon”.

The Heritage Minister’s words could easily have been applied to himself, however – after press revelations about his extra-marital affair led to his downfall within a year of making those remarks.

[December 3, 1988: Edwina Currie sparks outrage with ‘salmonella in most eggs’ claim]

‘Minister of Fun’ Mellor – who was 43 at the time and had been married for 18 years – had been conducting an affair with a 31-year-old actress, Antonia de Sancha. Their relationship was exposed by The People newspaper on July 19, under the headline 'Fun Minister is 'exhausted' by relationship' – and de Sancha decided to respond by giving her side of the story.

She hired the services of publicist Max Clifford, and The Sun paid her £35,000 for her kiss-and-tell story. De Sancha (pictured below) later admitted that many of the details printed in the tabloid weren’t true – including the now infamous stories that Mellor made love in a Chelsea strip and enjoyed spanking and toe-sucking.

Antonia De Sancha responds to news of David Mellor's resignation.

"I went along with everything at the time. It was almost like I was having an out-of-body experience," she explained to a newspaper in 2002.

[May 16, 1990: Minister John Gummer enlists daughter's help in fight against mad cow disease]

Mellor himself would tell the Leveson Inquiry in 2011: "My story included, on the part of The People, a recourse to phone tapping that was wholly disproportionate to any public interest in the story.

“The Sun went one better, with a lot of cynically invented trash about Chelsea shirts, that exposed the moral bankruptcy of the whole kiss-and-tell industry.

"The story was cooked up for cash by Max Clifford and Sun executives, and given front-page publicity, even though they all knew it to be totally false."

[December 6, 1963: Christine Keeler, Profumo's model lover, is jailed for perjury]

Prime Minister John Major stood by Mellor throughout the incident. But after further scandals hit the minister – including the revelation that he had accepted a holiday gift from a woman connected with the PLO – the pressure mounted, and he resigned on September 24.

"This is the first time in ages that David Mellor has done the decent thing,” joked the editor of The People, Bill Hagerty.

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