Politics: Cook's secretary recruited by Hurd

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The Independent Online
Robin Cook and Gaynor Regan, his partner and long-term constituency secretary, considered the possibility of her taking up a job as his official diary secretary, it was revealed last night.

But a Tory charge that Mr Cook's original diary secretary had been sacked to make way for Ms Regan was rejected by a spokesman for the Foreign Secretary.

Following a weekend suggestion of impropriety, made by Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the last Tory Foreign Secretary, it was disclosed by the Prime Minister's spokesman yesterday that when Labour had taken office in May it was discovered that the Foreign Secretary's diary secretary, Anne Bullen, had been a personal appointment made by Douglas Hurd in November 1993. She had been recruited from outside the Civil Service.

Her contract had been extended by one year by Sir Malcolm in November 1996, but Mr Cook's spokesman said last night: "The decision not to renew her contract was taken three weeks after the election, when it became apparent that she was unwilling to develop a reasonable working relationship with the new government."

It was alleged that Ms Bullen was a Tory party member, and the spokesman said it was hardly surprising that she did not get on with the new regime.

There had been no question of Ms Bullen being removed to make way for Ms Regan, but he added: "After the decision was taken to replace Miss Bullen, Gaynor Regan was, for a short time, considered for the post.

"Having worked for several years as Mr Cook's personal assistant in Opposition, she was an obvious candidate. But, having considered the possibility, both she and Mr Cook decided not to pursue it."