When the distinguished broadcaster Melvyn Bragg confirmed to me last June that he had separated after 43 years from his wife, author Cate Haste, many of his friends assumed divorce proceedings would soon follow.
However, I can disclose that the Labour peer, 77, who presented ITV’s flagship arts programme The South Bank Show for more than 30 years, has agreed a huge financial settlement with Lady Bragg, 71, that will, unusually, involve the couple remaining man and wife.
‘I would rather keep it private, but it’s true that we have agreed an amicable settlement,’ Lord Bragg tells me.
Gabriel Clare-Hunt and Lord Melvyn Bragg, left, and him with ex-wife Cate Haste, right
As part of the deal, he is understood to have shelled out several million pounds to buy his wife, who co-wrote a book about 10 Downing Street with Cherie Blair, her own home in Hampstead, North London.
One of his friends tells me: ‘It’s not far from his own large home. Melvyn has been very generous to her. It’s nothing to do with religion, but Melvyn does not like the idea of divorce. He’s a very complex person.’
The settlement means there is no prospect of his mistress, Gabriel Clare-Hunt, 61, becoming the new Lady Bragg in the near future.
Their relationship began in 1995 when she was a secretary at London Weekend Television, where Bragg was arts controller. While Lord Bragg lives alone during the week, the pair spend weekends together at Gaby’s South London home.
She is divorced from prep school head Peter Clare-Hunt, 64, and has no children.
Lord Bragg, who presents acclaimed Radio 4 discussion programme In Our Time, is also reported to have had an eight-year affair with Lady Jane Wellesley, Prince Charles’s former girlfriend, which is believed to have ended in 1987. She is the daughter of the 8th Duke of Wellington.
The confirmation of the Braggs’ separation came just nine months after he led a chorus of Happy Birthday at his wife’s 70th celebration.
Among the 50 friends and family members at the dinner in Buckinghamshire was Jeremy Paxman’s now ex-partner, television producer Elizabeth Clough.
Lord and Lady Bragg have two grown-up children together: filmmaker Alice, 39, and science journalist Tom, 36. He also has a daughter, Marie-Elsa, 51, a Church of England priest, from his first marriage to Marie-Elisabeth Roche.
Miss Roche, known to friends as Lise, killed herself in 1971. She was estranged from Lord Bragg.
In a BBC 2 documentary profile marking his 75th birthday in 2014, Bragg admitted that Lise’s death had cast ‘a long shadow’ over his otherwise successful life.
He said it was something he ‘can’t get over’. The programme made no mention of any mistresses.
Fury over BBC Balls tweet
Ed Balls was joined by Tess Daly and his Strictly chums on Saturday at his riotous 50th birthday party
Ed Balls was joined by Tess Daly and his Strictly chums on Saturday at his riotous 50th birthday party, which concluded with the former minister bashing at a drum kit.
But a ‘happy birthday’ tweet from BBC Media Editor Amol Rajan, perhaps fishing for an invitation, prompted a furious response from Labour defector George Galloway: ‘Pass the sick bag. Top tip — don’t make the fraternising with the New Labour elite quite so obvious.’
Rajan retorted: ‘But I fraternise with all sorts, George — I even came to your wedding.’
US President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka walk to board Marine One at the White House in Washington
Twitter-loving U.S. President Donald Trump publicly attacked a U.S. department store for dropping daughter Ivanka’s clothing line.
Now Ivanka has jumped ship from three of her father’s companies in this country.
She stood down as director of SLC Turnberry, Trump International Golf Club Scotland and Nitto World Co. Her father had to do so as President, but she was under no such obligation. His sons, Eric and Donald Jr, remain at the helm.
Rachel Hunter, 47, the ex-wife of Rod Stewart, showed the 72-year-old crooner what he’s missing
Rod’s ex wears it well… even at 47
In these cold, wet and windy days, what better way to make everyone jealous than by posting a picture of yourself sunbathing in a bikini?
Rachel Hunter, 47, the ex-wife of Rod Stewart, showed the 72-year-old crooner what he’s missing in this picture taken on Pakiri Beach in her native New Zealand.
‘My sand box,’ said the model, who has two children from her 16-year marriage to Stewart, which ended in 1999. Rachel said she had to leave him because she was too young for him.
But notorious ladies’ man Rod went on to marry another blonde model, Penny Lancaster, who is two years younger than Rachel.