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Sunday, January 11, 1998 Published at 04:46 GMT



UK: Politics

Comments were private, says Cook's wife
image: [ Robin Cook should not consider resigning, says his wife ]
Robin Cook should not consider resigning, says his wife

The estranged wife of the Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has come to his defence, insisting that the bitter remarks she made about the break-up of their marriage were never intended for publication.

Margaret Cook was reported in last week's Times Magazine to have complained about the brusque manner in which her husband ended their 28-year-old marriage.

But Mrs Cook, 52, said the conversation she had with the journalist Linda McDougall, wife of Labour MP Austin Mitchell, was meant to be private.


[ image: Margaret Cook: Robin would be one of the outstanding Foreign Secretaries of modern times]
Margaret Cook: Robin would be one of the outstanding Foreign Secretaries of modern times
The mother-of-two added: "The timing of the revelations is due to the imminent publication of the book and not any wish on my part to return to the marriage and its ending, which are now past," she told the Observer.

But Ms McDougall denied breaking any confidences, insisting Mrs Cook knew she was being interviewed for a book.

Margaret Cook also insisted that her husband, who is reported to have moved his secretary and girlfriend Gaynor Regan into his official home in London, should not consider resigning.

"Labour relentless in pursuit"

Mrs Cook's insistence that she never intended to damage her husband will come as a welcome fillip to the Foreign Secretary, who earlier faced comments about his behaviour from political opponents.

The former Home Office minister and Tory MP, Ann Widdecombe, said: "I do not comment on people's personal lives, but I cannot resist observing that when our ministers had similar difficulties Labour were relentless in their pursuit."

A source close to Mr Cook acknowledged a Mail on Sunday report that he had moved Ms Regan into No 1, Carlton Gardens but was dismissive of the story.


[ image: Foreign Secretary reported to have moved his girlfriend into official residence]
Foreign Secretary reported to have moved his girlfriend into official residence
"Gaynor Regan has been living openly with Robin Cook as his partner in the official residence of the Foreign Secretary for the last six months," the source said.

Both Mrs Cook and a source close to her husband denied another report which suggested that Mr Cook considered resigning if the publicity surrounding their marriage break-up became incessant.

"Resignation story untrue"

The Sunday Times said Mr Cook privately acknowledged that he might have to resign as Foreign Secretary - telling his wife in a conversation before Christmas that the "drip, drip, drip" effect of further news stories could make his position untenable.

But an aide to the Foreign Secretary dismissed the story as "completely untrue and without foundation."

Mrs Cook, in a statement, agreed, saying: "I understand the Sunday Times is carrying a report on what purports to be a recent conversation between myself and my husband with regard to adverse publicity.

"We have had no such dialogue either recently or even in the months before Christmas."

And she insisted: "There are no grounds for him to consider resigning."


 





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