Vil­i­fied by his fam­ily, Stephen Hawk­ing’s sec­ond wife has been ac­cused of phys­i­cally and men­tally abus­ing him. This week it emerged the cou­ple are to di­vorce. So why is she grin­ning so broadly?

Daily Mail - - News - by Paul Brac­chi

WELL I’m not sur­prised,’ said the voice on the end of the line when in­formed yes­ter­day that Pro­fes­sor Stephen Hawk­ing is di­vorc­ing his wife Elaine. ‘Not sur­prised at all — I just wish it had hap­pened a long, long time ago.’ The voice be­longed to a nurse who used to care for Prof Hawk­ing; she parted com­pany with him, re­luc­tantly, af­ter Elaine be­came the sec­ond Mrs Hawk­ing in 1995.

‘ She is the rea­son I left. It’s the rea­son ev­ery­one leaves. It’s im­pos­si­ble to rec­on­cile the way she treated Stephen with the ethics of our pro­fes­sion. I don’t want to say any­more be­cause it brings back painful mem­o­ries.’

It is a sen­ti­ment shared by al­most all Prof Hawk­ing’s friends and fam­ily; re­lief that he is now fi­nally free of Elaine, and dis­tress that it has taken so long; the cou­ple have been to­gether for 17 years.

It is a re­la­tion­ship that, al­most from the be­gin­ning, has pro­voked a storm of con­tro­versy — and sus­pi­cion — the wheel­chair-bound Prof Hawk­ing, 64, who has suf­fered from mo­tor neu­rone dis­ease since the age of 22, and the ‘con­trol­ling, ma­nip­u­la­tive and bul­ly­ing’ (the words of an­other for­mer em­ployee) Elaine.

Be­cause for years there have been shock­ing ru­mours of vi­o­lence and abuse against the vul­ner­a­ble sci­en­tist — men­tal as well as phys­i­cal — sup­ported by his own chil­dren no less.

There is un­likely to be any ref­er­ence to th­ese al­le­ga­tions in di­vorce pa­pers lodged by both par­ties at Cam­bridge County Court, how­ever.

Prof Hawk­ing has pub­licly de­nied such claims in the past. For a fiercely proud man who, though feted as pos­si­bly the world’s most fa­mous liv­ing sci­en­tist, must rely on oth­ers to help him per­form ba­sic hu­man func­tions, it surely would have been the fi­nal in­dig­nity: to be forced to deny that he is a bat­tered hus­band.

Next month, he will re­ceive the Royal So­ci­ety’s most pres­ti­gious prize — the Copley Medal — won by such lu­mi­nar­ies as Charles Dar­win, Ben­jamin Franklin and Al­bert Ein­stein.

Con­spic­u­ous by her ab­sence at the cer­e­mony, of course, will be Mrs Hawk­ing, 55, who is thought to have al­ready moved out of the mar­i­tal home. So why af­ter all th­ese years have they split up? There have been sug­ges­tions that he has found a new girl­friend but a source close to the fam­ily has stren­u­ously de­nied to the Mail that the break-up was caused by Prof Hawk­ing hav­ing an af­fair. ‘It is com­plete and ut­ter rub­bish,’ he said.

What’s more, it is also ru­moured that Mrs Hawk­ing has be­come ‘close’ to an­other man, a for­mer carer, be­lieved to have been ap­pointed by Elaine, who used to look af­ter her hus­band. ‘I met “him’’ once,’ said some­one who worked for Prof Hawk­ing. ‘It was a few years ago be­fore they sup­pos­edly

be­came in­volved and I can’t re­ally re­mem­ber any­thing about him.’

Mrs Hawk­ing — or Elaine Ma­son, as she was for­merly known — was also mar­ried when she joined Prof Hawk­ing’s nurs­ing team back in the Eight­ies; she sub­se­quently left her hus­band of 15 years, leav­ing him to bring up their two young sons.

But what of her now? She will leave her sec­ond mar­riage con­sid­er­ably wealth­ier than she did her first. The cou­ple’s town­house in Cam­bridge, pur­chased in 1992 and now worth £750,000, is in their joint names.

More­over, he has amassed a vast per­sonal for­tune. More than 210,000 copies of his book A Brief His­tory Of Time have been sold in the past eight years alone, net­ting more than £2mil­lion. He has also made lu­cra­tive sums from other books.

On Thurs­day, Mrs Hawk­ing, who has al­ways de­nied mar­ry­ing for money, cy­cled to the (for­mer) mar­i­tal home where she was un­der­stood to have at­tended a meet­ing with so­lic­i­tors. ‘I have been told that — sur­prise — one of the stum­bling blocks in the di­vorce is money,’ said an old fam­ily friend.

Un­der dif­fer­ent cir­cum­stances, this would be hardly worth men­tion­ing. But, in the light of all the other al­le­ga­tions, it is, you might think, par­tic­u­larly telling.

To­day, as the de­tails of their di­vorce are thrashed out by so­lic­i­tors, those who know Prof Hawk­ing pro­vide a chill­ing in­sight into his private life over the past decade.

In 2000, de­tec­tives launched an in­quiry af­ter Prof Hawk­ing made a num­ber of vis­its to Ad­den­brooke’s Hospi­tal, Cam­bridge, suf­fer­ing from cuts and bruises, and an­other in­quiry was opened in 2003 af­ter his daugh­ter Lucy rang po­lice.

Prof Hawk­ing de­clined to ex­plain how his in­juries had come about. A num­ber of his for­mer nurses, how­ever, were in no doubt.

THEY al­leged that over the years his wife in­flicted a cat­a­logue of in­juries on the vul­ner­a­ble sci­en­tist: frac­tured his wrist by slam­ming it on to his wheel­chair; hu­mil­i­ated him by re­fus­ing him ac­cess to a urine bot­tle, leav­ing him to wet him­self; gashed his cheek with a ra­zor, al­lowed him to slip be­neath the wa­ter while in the bath, en­sur­ing wa­ter en­tered the tra­cheotomy site in his throat; and left him alone in his gar­den dur­ing the hottest day of the year so long that he suf­fered heat­stroke and se­vere sun­burn. It is th­ese al­le­ga­tions that po­lice in­ves­ti­gated.

But a wo­man who worked for him at Cam­bridge Univer­sity says the ‘un­ex­plained in­juries’ be­gan ‘many years be­fore’ the po­lice be­came in­volved.

‘He used to reg­u­larly come in with bruises and cuts,’ said the source. ‘I re­mem­ber once he turned up with a black eye. I asked him; “How did that hap­pen Stephen?’’ He replied: “I bumped into a door.’’ ‘That was ob­vi­ously my cue to shut up, so I did.

‘It was com­mon knowl­edge that Stephen was very, very un­happy long be­fore all the al­le­ga­tions ap­peared in the pa­pers. Be­fore they were mar­ried they went on hol­i­day to Is­rael and we heard later that they had a fu­ri­ous row and their ho­tel room was dam­aged [for­mer nurses claimed that Elaine would ‘throw things around the kitchen’ dur­ing tantrums].

‘I re­mem­ber ask­ing Stephen why he and Elaine stayed to­gether and he said: “any re­la­tion­ship was bet­ter than none”.’

‘In the end I left Stephen be­cause I couldn’t stand it. I felt very strongly that I could no longer carry on with­out feel­ing that I was col­lud­ing in what was hap­pen­ing. The po­lice in­ter­viewed me a few years ago as part of their in­ves­ti­ga­tion.’

Elaine, once de­scribed as a ‘church­go­ing mother of two’ was, per­haps un­sur­pris­ingly, never par­tic­u­larly pop­u­lar with the Hawk­ing fam­ily — pri­mar­ily his first wife Jane, the mother of his three chil­dren, Robert, 39, a soft­ware en­gi­neer, Lucy, 36, a jour­nal­ist, and Ti­mothy, 27.

Elaine was, as we know, orig­i­nally Prof Hawk­ing’s nurse and joined the staff af­ter he had a tra­cheotomy op­er­a­tion in 1985 — the re­sult of a pre­vi­ous pneu­mo­nia in­fec­tion which nearly killed him. The op­er­a­tion left him un­able to breath un­aided and in need of round-the-clock su­per­vi­sion. It was Elaine’s for­mer hus­band, en­gi­neer David Ma­son, who made the voice­box which cre­ated the ro­bot-like vo­cal tone for which Prof Hawk­ing is now fa­mous.

From the start, say friends, she set out to in­gra­ti­ate her­self with him, and, over a pe­riod of time, the fam­ily no­ticed the mes­meric hold the ‘ new nurse’ was be­gin­ning to ex­ert over her charge, and felt deeply un­easy.

‘She brain­washed him to think that she was the only per­son who could pos­si­bly look af­ter him,’ one friend re­called. ‘She was also re­ally jeal­ous of his chil­dren and the close re­la­tion­ship they had with him.’

Mat­ters were com­pli­cated when his wife of 26 years be­gan hav­ing an af­fair in the Eight­ies — with, ap­par­ently, Hawk­ing’s tacit ap­proval — with a choir­mas­ter, whom she had be­friended af­ter his wife died of leukaemia.

Elaine be­gan ac­com­pa­ny­ing Prof Hawk­ing on trips abroad. Prof Hawk­ing and Jane di­vorced in 1990.

He fi­nally mar­ried Elaine in 1995 but nei­ther Jane or their three chil­dren at­tended. ‘I think he has been very ill-ad­vised,’ his for­mer wife said at the time. But how could she — how could any­one — pre­dict the events that fol­lowed?

First, say sources, Elaine be­gan dis­pens­ing with the nurses who cared for her hus­band and re­plac­ing them with car­ers. They were cheaper cer­tainly, but that, ac­cord­ing to those who knew the fam­ily, was not the point. ‘It was much more about con­trol,’ one long-stand­ing fam­ily friend told the Mail. ‘Elaine was a nurse her­self, al­though she had al­lowed her reg­is­tra­tion to lapse.

BUT she didn’t just want to be on the same level as those who looked af­ter her hus­band. It was very im­por­tant to her that she was su­pe­rior to them which is why she be­gan em­ploy­ing less qual­i­fied staff.’

An­other for­mer mem­ber of Prof Hawk­ing’s ‘care team’ added: ‘ Any­one who has ever cared for some­one who is el­derly or dis­abled would un­der­stand how dif­fi­cult it is, but, on the other hand, I was wor­ried about his well-be­ing which is why I even­tu­ally left. I just couldn’t stand by and watch him be­ing hurt.’

Why, then, if this is in­deed true, did Prof Hawk­ing cover up for his wife?

‘Some­one with Stephen’s bril­liance must, in­evitably also pos­sess an el­e­ment of ar­ro­gance,’ said a friend. ‘Stephen has al­ways striven against the odds — both phys­i­cally and in­tel­lec­tu­ally.

‘When he makes a de­ci­sion he be­comes sin­gle-minded about it, about con­vinc­ing the world of its va­lid­ity. And so, I feel, it is with Elaine: hav­ing made his bed — against much ad­vice — I be­lieve he felt he must lie in it with­out com­plaint. For a man like Prof Hawk­ing to ad­mit that he made a big, big mis­take would be the ul­ti­mate hu­mil­i­a­tion.’

There would also have been the hu­mil­i­a­tion, in his eyes at least, that his vul­ner­a­bil­ity left him un­able to de­fend him­self even against his wife. For that, it seems, Prof Stephen Hawk­ing has paid a ter­ri­ble price.

Nor­mally, the break-up of a mar­riage is the cause of im­mense sad­ness and re­gret. But to­day, the fam­ily and friends of Prof Stephen Hawk­ing — in­deed for ev­ery­one who knows and ad­mires him — those emo­tions have been re­placed by a pro­found sense of re­lief. Ad­di­tional re­port­ing:

Richard Price

Apart: The de­ci­sion by Elaine and Stephen (top right) to sep­a­rate has not come as a sur­prise to many

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