Κάπως έτσι πέφτουν άνθρωποι!
Αυτά βέβαια, σε μια πουριτανική κοινωνία, την δεκαετία των sixties,
παρ' όλα αυτά...
...Όποιος έχει την ευθύνη και το βάρος όχι μόνον του ονόματός του αλλά
και του χώρου στον οποίον εργάζεται, (έντυπο, κυβερνητική θέση κλπ)
οφείλει να είναι συνεπής στις αρχές και τις αξίες, που η θέση του τού επιβάλλει!
και μόνον έτσι.
Espionage, Russian attaches,
political treachery, top-notch Tory politicians.
Sex parties, call girls, secret FBI investigations,
lies told in parliament.
The downfall of a cabinet minister,
and ultimately the resignation of the British Prime Minister
Welcome to the Profumo Affair.
The relationship between Conservative Secretary of State for War John Profumo,
and Christine Keeler shocked the nation in the early 1960s.
The public queued up to scorn the morality of the upper classes, as the newspapers dished the dirt on what was undoubtedly the biggest political sleaze story of the decade.
A photograph of Keeler, naked across a chair, has even become an iconic image of the swinging sixties era. The scandal seemed to mark the end of the straight-laced fifties and usher in a new era of sexual liberation.
At the height of the Cold War, the fact Keeler had also slept with Eugene Ivanov, a naval attaché at the Soviet Embassy, was political dynamite.
It was enough to force the resignation of Profumo, who was felt to have compromised British security.
However, there was more to the story than initially met the eye. Keeler has since written her autobiography, 'The Truth At Last', where she alleges she was used as a cover for an Anglo-Soviet spy ring.
John Profumo was a charming and respected Tory politician who was educated at Harrow and Oxford. As well as being a rising star in Macmillan's Conservative government, he was married to the movie actress Valerie Hobson and moved in sophisticated London circles.
The wild-living Christine Keeler (pictured) had run away from home at the age of 16 and become a showgirl at Murray's cabaret club in Soho where, as she put it, she was employed "to walk around naked" (actually the showgirls wore very elaborate Cleopatra-style costumes with gold and feathers).
This was where she befriended another showgirl, Mandy Rice-Davies.
Keeler, a strikingly beautiful young woman, also befriended Stephen Ward, a fashionable London osteopath who enjoyed sketching the rich and famous.
Ward introduced Keeler, a feisty, but impressionable teenager, into a world which she had never before encountered. A world peopled with the rich and famous, aristocratic, charming and powerful men, all eager to meet her and take her out.
Keeler lived the high-life, but her attractiveness to men would ultimately lead her down a dangerous path.
Keeler cohabited with Ward platonically at his Wimpole Mews flat.
The well-connected doctor had a fondness for art and liked to surround himself with beautiful women. He liked to throw sex parties, which were attended by high-ranking and influential members of the establishment.
Keeler had a tempestuous relationship with Ward. She often ran away, but always came back and seems to have placed all her trust in him.
At Ward's trial in 1963, Keeler told the court: "We were like brother and sister. My life really used to revolve around Stephen. He had full control of my mind. I used to do more or less everything that he said.
I thought I could never stand on my feet unless he was there and supporting me mentally." Ward courted the prominent and the powerful, and made friends easily. In fact, Roger Hollis, the then head of MI5, was said to be a frequent visitor to his flat.
Ward was also known for introducing women to men and there are lurid stories told of parties held at his home, involving two-way mirrors, sado-masochism and orgies.
The most infamous tale is that of the "man in the mask", a high-ranking member of the establishment. He would serve guests at Ward's dinner parties, naked, except for a mask and eat his dinner from a dog bowl. Despite rumours he was a Cabinet minister, he has never been identified.
Friends and enemies
Keeler and Ward often spent weekends at a cottage belonging to one of Ward's friends, Lord Astor. It was at a party at Lord Astor's Cliveden country residence in Berkshire in 1961 that Keeler and Profumo first met.
According to Keeler, they flirted around the swimming pool and jokingly tried on suits of armour in the rooms of the mansion. The War minister was smitten and the couple subsequently had a passionate affair.
Keeler often visited Profumo's home and his offices, but their affair was only brief. It would probably never have come to light were it not for a few complications in Keeler's love life - namely, that she had also slept with Ivanov, a solemn and patriotic Muscovite who was a spy.
According to Keeler, Ivanov received information and documents stolen by Ward and passed them onto his spy chiefs in Moscow.
Lies in parliament
When the story broke in 1962, Profumo initially tried to deny the affair, but his efforts were futile. Once the whiff of sex, spies and scandal was out, the media hounded him.
In March 1963, he made the crucial mistake of lying in the House of Commons about it, telling the chamber: "Miss Keeler and I were on friendly terms. There was no impropriety whatsoever in my acquaintanceship with Miss Keeler." However, ten weeks later he appeared before MPs again to say "with deep remorse" that he had misled the House because he wanted to protect his wife and family, and that he would resign.
Meanwhile Keeler, who was also the victim of a vicious stalker called Lucky Gordon, had fled to Spain. A ludicrous car chase ensued, with Keeler at the head of an entourage of reporters pursuing her through Europe. She was on her way back to Britain, after agreeing to sell her story to the Express newspaper.
Keeler's relationships with Ivanov, Ward and Profumo, also attracted the attentions of the US. The FBI kept copious dossiers on their relationship under the codename, Bowtie, which have now been made public. During a trip to America, FBI agents followed Keeler and Rice-Davies.
When the Profumo Affair became public, Ward was charged with living on the immoral earnings of Keeler and Rice-Davies and of effectively running a brothel in his home.
This has been strenuously denied by Keeler, who claims Ward used women and sex not for cash, but to gain influence among his peers.
However, she did make a statement saying Profumo gave her money "for her mother", and Rice-Davies admitted having sex for money in Ward's flat. Ward was prosecuted but committed suicide on the very last day of the trial, before the jury reached their verdict.
At Ward's trial, the prosecution alleged Mandy Rice-Davies had received money from Lord Astor in return for sex. When she was told Lord Astor had denied ever sleeping with her, she uttered the immortal line: "He would, wouldn't he?"
Spies like us
In Keeler's autobiography, she claims Ward was a spy for the Soviet Union and asked her to get information from Profumo about the placing of nuclear warheads in West Germany. She also claims Ward asked her to drop off letters at the Soviet Embassy and at one point tried to kill her while she was water-skiing, because he feared she would blow the whistle on him.
More than this, she claims Ward and herself were used as a smokescreen by the establishment, who wanted the media to focus on the racier aspects of the story in order to cover up a serious breach of British security.
Keeler was found guilty on unrelated perjury charges - for not attending as a witness for the trial of a man who was shot at her home - and sentenced to nine months in Holloway Prison.
The official report
The government ordered an official report into the scandal from Lord Denning (pictured), then Master of the Rolls, on September 25, 1963. When the report was released at midnight a couple of months later, hundreds of curious members of the public queued to buy a copy. However, it contained few salacious details.
Lord Denning criticised the government for not dealing with the affair more quickly, but he concluded that there had been no breach of national security.
Shortly after this, the Conservative Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, resigned, his ill health exacerbated by the scandal He was replaced with Earl Home, who renounced his peerage to become Sir Alec Douglas-Home in order to take up office.
John Profumo has kept a low profile since the sensational events of the 1960s, mainly occupying himself with charity work. He was named Commander of the British Empire in 1975 for his charitable work.
After the scandal broke, the Naval attaché Ivanov was called back to Moscow and never heard from again.
Keeler lives quietly in North London, and says she still feels "bewildered" by what happened, Rice-Davies is a grandmother and lives in America.