Cook was a man of political integrity, says former wife

Helen McCormack
Monday 08 August 2005 00:00
Comments

Dr Cook, who was married to Mr Cook for 28 years before they split in the late 1990s, and has two adult sons by her former husband, said that one of his best attributes was that he was an "exemplary father" who was "very close" to his children.

"It's a terrible shock and a terrible tragedy. He was so young and had so much to offer. In these troubled political times he was a heavyweight on the right side, not least on the war in Iraq," Dr Cook, a retired NHS consultant, said.

She was given news of Mr Cook's death after their sons, Peter and Christopher, had been informed. The two were "gutted", she said, and were yesterday travelling to Scotland from their respective homes in Bristol and London.

The couple's marriage came to an end in August 1997, when Mr Cook was forced to admit to his wife that he was having an affair with his then secretary, Gaynor Regan, whom he went on to marry.

Dr Cook later recounted in her memoirs how Mr Cook, then the foreign secretary, told her of the affair in the VIP lounge at Heathrow airport after receiving a phone call from Alastair Campbell, informing him that a tabloid newspaper was to print the story.

Public acrimony over the book continued when, in 2002, Mr Cook spoke of the happiness his new marriage had bought him, praising his new wife, Gaynor, 11 years his junior, for teaching him "emotional intelligence". Dr Cook responded by remarking that her former husband was "not renowned for his tact".

The new Mrs Cook proved to be a devoted wife, often accompanying her husband to political events. In contrast to Dr Cook, she has remained silent about her relationship.

However, in recent times the former consultant haematologist at St John's Hospital in Livingston, near Edinburgh, has appeared happier, leaving the NHS to work as a writer.

Dr Cook said yesterday that she hoped to attend the funeral of her former husband, but added: "Obviously, I will take Gaynor's wishes into account".

Dr Cook has written a second book, Lords of Creation - The Demented World of Men in Power, and, reflecting on her former husband's career, observed that although he was "brilliant" in opposition, in particular during his savage dissemination of the Scott report, an inquiry into the arms-to- Iraq affair, she did not find him suited to power. "He was an absolute brilliant, gold standard, in opposition. He just knew how to do the background work and was a brilliant orator," she said.

"The Scott report was his top point in his career and he totally confounded the government of the day. I don't think he handled power well because of the necessary conflicts and deviations with his own essential personality and ethical style." Describing the impact his decision to resign from government had, she continued: "His whole life had been geared to getting into government and he was giving it up in a truly moral stand which was typical of him."

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in