Stephen Hawking is to divorce for a second time, it was reported yesterday. Lawyers have lodged divorce papers at Cambridge County Court to end his 11-year marriage to Elaine Hawking.
The Cambridge University professor, whose book A Brief History of Time has sold more than 10 million copies, made no public comment yesterday on the split, but the couple are believed to both want a divorce following the breakdown of their marriage.
Judith Crosswell, Professor Hawking's secretary, said: "This is just a distraction, which is really annoying. We don't have time for any of this."
A source close to the family denied reports in a tabloid newspaper that the break-up was caused by Professor Hawking having an affair. "That is complete and utter libellous rubbish," he said.
Professor Hawking married Elaine in 1995 after leaving Jane Hawking, his wife of 26 years and the mother of this three children. Elaine Hawking's previous husband, David Mason, designed the voice synthesiser with which Professor Hawking communicates.
The marriage has been dogged by rumours of abuse. In 2004 a police investigation was launched when former nurses looking after Professor Hawking reported their suspicions that Mrs Hawking had emotionally and physically abused her husband.
Cambridge police confirmed they were investigating allegations of assault, but dropped the case when the scientist issued a statement saying that the allegations were false.
Mrs Hawking has reportedly moved out of the detached house the couple shared in Cambridge.
Professor Hawking contracted motor neurone disease when he was 22.
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