UK

David Mellor's Rant At Taxi Driver Defended By Former MP Jacqui Smith

25/11/2014 16:29 GMT | Updated 25/11/2014 16:59 GMT

Former home secretary Jacqui Smith has leapt to the defence of millionaire former cabinet Minister David Mellor who was branded "pompous' after being caught on tape ranting at a taxi driver.

The ex-Labour MP, who lost her Redditch seat after being embroiled in an expenses scandal, waded into the furore surrounding Mellor after he was recorded launching the expletive-ridden tirade at the cabbie.

Mellor called the driver a "smart-arsed little git" and a "sweaty, stupid little shit," following a visit to Buckingham Palace with his partner, who had just been awarded a CBE.

The QC and former Conservative MP made sure to tell the cabbie how vastly superior he was to him during a fierce argument about the route he wanted to travel on Friday.

But Smith, who resigned as home secretary in 2009 after it emerged she had claimed expenses for pornographic films watched by her husband, argued the taxi driver should have just asked Mellor to leave, rather than sell his story to the paper.

In a debate between Guardian columnist Gaby Hinsliff and Saturday Guardian's Archie Bland, Smith said newspapers are replacing phone hacking with "cab hacking."

The row all started after Mellor accompanied his partner, VisitEngland chairman Viscountess Penelope Cobham, to an Investiture ceremony with the Prince of Wales.

But his journey back from the event was less than smooth according to a mobile phone recording given to The Sun.

The paper reported that Mellor, who served as national heritage secretary in Sir John Major's government, accused the driver of not taking the quickest route to their destination in east London during rush hour.

During the audio, Mellor, who told the driver to "fuck off", threatened to name him and discuss the incident on his LBC radio show, which he co-presents with former London Mayor Ken Livingstone on Saturday mornings.

"I don't want to hear from you, shut the fuck up," he said.

"You've been driving a cab for 10 years, I've been in the Cabinet, I'm an award-winning broadcaster, I'm a Queen's Counsel. You think that your experiences are anything compared to mine?"

But his journey back from the event was less than smooth according to a mobile phone recording given to The Sun.

"Just shut up," he added. "Drive me whichever way you want, and keep a civil tongue in your head."

Despite Mellor's boasts of grand accomplishments, others reacted to the explosive recording with less than admiration:

Mellor also accused the taxi driver of "ruining his wife's day".

"See what you've done to her," he said. "She's telling me I've ruined her day. YOU fucking ruined her day. She's been at Buckingham Palace, she's seen Prince Charles, received a major award, and you, smart-arsed little git, have ruined her day. Are you proud of yourself?"

Mellor told The Sun the driver, who is not named but is described as a 38-year-old from south east London, had provoked him.

"This man seriously provoked me and ruined a wonderful day," he said. "Once I had lost my temper, which I regret, he then secretly recorded me. I will leave the public to judge his actions."

But Mick Cash, general secretary of transport union the RMT, reacted to the news by calling Mellor "pompous."

"Driving a taxi in London is hard enough without having some pumped-up, pompous former Tory minister telling you how to do your job," he said.

"If you want an example of the political elite's sheer contempt for the working class then this incident has it in shed-loads."

The London taxi branch of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union said it was to consider a formal boycott of the former Tory minister.

Mellor has previously been branded "repellant" for calling a child abuse victim "a weirdo."

He resigned in 1992, blaming his departure on a constant barrage of hostile stories in the tabloid press.

His resignation followed the revelation that Mona Bauwens, the daughter of a senior member of the Palestine National Fund, had paid towards his holiday.