Jill Morrell, the woman who campaigned tirelessly for the release of Beirut hostage John McCarthy only to see their subsequent relationship founder, has spoken of the shadow cast on her life by the experience.

Ms Morrell spent five years fighting to get boyfriend and journalist John freed after he was kidnapped in April 1986. Despite getting back together after his homecoming, they broke up four years later.

Writing in a newspaper, Ms Morrell said: "I have had a number of relationships, and some of them brought happiness.

"But I have not settled down into a lasting one and have not had children, something I always assumed I would do.

"The lack of both is a source of sadness to me, although I am very close to my dad, brother and auntie and my friends are also like family to me."

John McCarthy's ordeal and 1991 release turned him into a figure of global press interest.

The reunited couple detailed their shared ordeal by co-writing a best-selling book Some Other Rainbow before their relationship ended.

Ms Morrell, now 51, said normal life for her was pretty much on hold for many years after his kidnap.

She said: "Inevitably our relationship suffered, and it came to an end.

After John had been home for four years, it seemed too difficult to move forward together and we took a mutual decision to split up. We had tried to make it work and I don't believe either of us was to blame.

"But it was a painful, difficult choice and, although it made sense, it felt to me like a personal failure. Certainly it has helped to colour my view of that time.

"Since then I have found it hard to view the Friends of John McCarthy campaign with any real sense of personal achievement."

She was also working as a journalist when he was kidnapped, and now works as a policy adviser for a cancer charity.

Mr McCarthy, 52, is now an established writer and broadcaster and married BBC editor Anna Ottewill in 1999.

Ms Morrell - whose reunion with McCarthy and his fellow hostages Brian Keenan and Terry Waite is broadcast today on BBC Radio 4 - said: "I am in touch with John and am very glad that things have worked out for him personally and professionally after everything he has been through, but he and his family live in Suffolk so I don't see him very much.

"Going back to that time and talking about it again has helped me to have more respect for its importance to me and to understand that the road to the normal' life I longed for is a long one, and one that I am perhaps still on.

"I was so young when it happened - we all were. And, looking back, so naive."