Cook tours to include Regan

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Gaynor Regan, the partner of Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, is to be given permission to travel with him on official visits in future, it was reported last night.

Last week Mr Cook abandoned plans for Mrs Regan to accompany him on visits to the United States, Canada and the Far East. But last night Downing Street said that the reference in the Ministerial Code of Conduct on the "travelling expenses of spouses" now included "partners".

A Downing Street spokesman said that Mr Cook had said he was estranged from his wife and regarded Mrs Regan as his permanent partner and the code allowed for circumstances in which a partner may accompany a minister a public expense."