Derek Draper, husband of Kate Garraway and former political adviser, dies after suffering long-lasting COVID symptoms

Derek Draper, a former political adviser and husband of TV presenter Kate Garraway, has died after several years of serious health complications due to coronavirus.

The 56-year-old was said to be one of the UK's longest-suffering COVID patients, spending 13 months in hospital after contracting the virus in March 2020.

He was left with extensive damage to his organs and needed daily care.

Garraway, who will be taking a leave of absence from her presenting role, posted a statement on Instagram this morning saying her "darling husband" had died and she had been "by his side holding his hand throughout his last long hours".

She confirmed he suffered a heart attack in early December, adding that "the damage inflicted by COVID... led to further complications".

"I have so much more to say, and of course I will do so in due course, but for now I just want to thank all the medical teams who fought so hard to save him and to make his final moments as comfortable and dignified as possible," she said.

"Sending so much love and thanks to all of you who have so generously given our family so much support. Rest gently and peacefully now Derek, my love, I was so lucky to have you in my life."

Garraway's Good Morning Britain co-stars and other well-known faces shared their condolences under the Instagram post.

"Our whole hearts are with you all," Susanna Reid said, while Charlotte Hawkins commented: "So desperately sorry Kate, it's absolutely heartbreaking. So much love to you all."

Sir Elton John said: "So sorry to hear of this news, Kate. Love and thoughts to you and your family x."

Former prime minister Sir Tony Blair, who Draper worked with in the 1990s, said he was "so sad" to hear about his death.

"It is extraordinary and remarkable that Derek survived so long after the ravages of COVID. And that was in large measure due to the love Derek had for his family and they for him. This also says something very special about Derek," he said.

"He was a tough, sometimes ruthless political operative, a brilliant adviser and someone you always wanted on your side.

"But underneath that tough exterior he was a loving, kind, generous and good natured man you wanted as a friend."

Alastair Campbell, a fellow prominent New Labour figure, described Derek Draper as "a huge character".

He posted on X, formerly known as Twitter: "Very sad to hear the news about Derek Draper. He was a huge character, a giver not a taker, and had so much more to give before COVID took its toll.

"Sad above all for Kate Garraway and the children. Their love and support was profound and unshakeable to the end. RIP."

Read more:
Elton John and Tony Blair pay tribute to 'brilliant' Draper

Draper's larger than life Labour character will not be forgotten

A prominent figure in New Labour in the 1990s, Draper worked for Blairite Peter Mandelson and set up the Progress organisation with Liam Byrne, who went on to become an MP.

After he was embroiled in the so-called "cash-for-access" scandal, dubbed "lobbygate", he travelled to the US, where he retrained as a psychotherapist.

Garraway and Draper married in 2005, and have two children together. They celebrated their 18th anniversary in September, with the presenter saying on Instagram that she was "so glad" he survived to see it.

Just a few days later, she published her book, The Strength Of Love: Embracing An Uncertain Future With Resilience And Optimism, chronicling the upending of life as she knew it when her husband fell ill.

"It's a constant cycle of loving and losing, gratitude at surviving and grief for what's been lost," she said. "This book tells the story of how I am learning to find love and strength to help my family thrive and I hope what I have learned helps you to get through your own challenges."

Garraway also made two documentaries about Draper's health battle and his care, with both programmes winning National Television Awards in the authored documentary category.

In 2022, she shared a post on Instagram as the second show, Caring For Derek, received its nomination.

"The reason we made the documentary was to highlight carers, professional carers, and carers who are doing it for love and the tough challenges that that involves," she said.

"As much as you don't begrudge doing it, it's very hard. You saw me frustrated, depressed, emotional, and I've been all of those and more in recent weeks and months.

"That's the thing about caring; you want it to carry on because you want the person surviving and with you. But there isn't an end point, and it doesn't get any easier."