He was educated at Swanage Grammar School and Christ's College, Cambridge graduating in law in 1970. He was called to the bar in 1972 and became a QC in 1987.
He held office for eleven years in six different ministries including all of the big three Departments of State; the Home Office, the Foreign Office, and the Treasury. As Chief Secretary to the Treasury he was in charge of public expenditure. As a Home Office Minister of State, he took the 1990 Broadcasting Act through Parliament and spearheaded the Government's campaign against dangerous drugs. He also chaired the Pompidou Group, the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers on drug control policies. As a Foreign Office Minister he was responsible for East-West relations, and the Middle East. As Minister for Health he worked with Kenneth Clarke on the creation and introduction of the Health Service reforms. He piloted the Childrens' Act 1989, one of the most significant pieces of social legislation of recent times, through Parliament. He founded the Department for National Heritage after the General election of April 1992, and forged close links with most of the country's leading arts and sporting bodies.
Since leaving the Government in September 1992, David Mellor has been active in the media. As well as being regularly interviewed on all the leading current affairs programmes on radio and television, he also presents his own programmes on radio and television. On radio he has had series on four of the BBC's five national radio networks. On Radio 2 he has presented programmes of light classical music, has a two special on Christmas day 1993. On Radio 3 he presents "Vintage Years" and on Radio 4 he has hosted three series of the chat show "Soapbox". On Radio Five Live he presents their cult soccer show "6.06", one of the networks most popular programmes, every Saturday evening during the soccer season.
At the prestigious 1995 Variety Club Awards, David Mellor was named "BBC Radio Personality of the Year".
David Mellor was a columnist for the Guardian, writing about the arts every Tuesday. He reviews books for the Daily Telegraph and contributes articles on politics, sport and the arts to several newspapers and periodicals at home and overseas. David Mellor is a Governor of the National Youth Orchestra, a former Deputy Chairman of the London Philharmonic Trust and a Trustee of the Richmond Theatre. In 1993 he was a judge for the Sony Radio Awards, the Whitbread Literary Prize and the Sunday Express Award for Fiction. In 1994 he chaired the panel of judges for the Science Book Awards.
David Mellor is active in charitable causes. He was appointed Chairman of the Sports Aid Foundation in March 1993. The SAF distributes over £2 million annually to support world class British athletes, and to promote new talent. He is a regular after-dinner speaker for the Lord's Taverners, the Variety club and other good causes.
He became an Honorary Associates of the British Veterinary Association in 1986 for services to animal welfare. He is a Fellow of the Zoological Society of London.
In May 1997 David lost his Parliamentary seat in Putney with one of the lowest swings away from the Conservative Party in London. He has since been appointed as Chairman of the Football Taskforce which is a Government appointed voluntary group who work to eliminate racism in football; improve disabled facilities for spectators; monitor pricing levels for tickets and merchandise; and encourage players to be good role models. He also runs "David Mellor Associates" which is a consultancy.