British Politican Sex Scandal


Profumo Affair Background

Christine Keeler was the young lady at the centre of the Profumo scandal in the 1960s which shocked the nation. John 'Jack' Profumo was war minister in Harold McMillan's Conservative government. Happily married and with a promising career ahead of him. Beautiful and vivacious Christine met him at a party and pursued an affair with him at the same time as maintaining illicit liaisons with a Soviet 'diplomat', known to the British secret service as a spy. In the days of the Cold War, when the West had missiles aimed directly at Moscow and the Soviet Union had theirs aimed at Washington and London and were very much prepared to press the button, this enthralled the nation with its cocktail of sex, spies and scandal and upset the establishment. The United States had attempted to invade Cuba the year before and the Russians had installed missiles there, just a stone's throw from the US mainland. This had resulted in the Cuban missile crisis where both superpowers were embroiled in a deadly game of brinkmanship. In this context, the idea that the leading war minister of America's main ally was sleeping with a lady who regularly had 'meetings' with a Soviet spy was dynamite.


The resultant furore forced Profumo to resign (after repeatedly lying about his involvement) and this in turn resulted in the fall of the government. It also resulted in the suicide of Dr. Stephen Ward - either a fun-loving though misguided and talkative friend of Christine's, or a calculating and manipulative traitor depending on whose account you believe, who first introduced her to Profumo. It also resulted in imprisonment for Christine for perjury as well as plaguing her for the rest of her life. Lewis Morley's classic image of a naked Christine straddling a back-to-front chair is a classic sixties icon. Christine had an abortion at sixteen, was held captive and raped twice by an infatuated madman, shot at by a jealous lover and was imprisoned and as a consequence of all this was disowned by her mother and one of her sons.

Ruined Reputation of Christine Keeler

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For the rest of her life she had to endure the stigma that resulted in society shunning her as a tart and a traitor although she always maintained neither was the case. In her 2001 autobiography (The Truth At Last) she claims that she became pregnant by Profumo and that Stephen Ward was a Russian spy who tried to kill her. Her most damning verdict, though, is on Lord Denning, appointed to investigate the scandal, whom she claims ignored her evidence as part of an official cover-up operation that damned her as a prostitute and the affair as a sex issue rather than a security issue. The official papers will remain locked up until 2046 and then, perhaps, we will at last discover the truth.

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By:Tehetna Gebreamanuel