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Posted: Dec 6 2017, 11:38 AM
Group: Featured Blogers
Member No.: 17
Joined: 17-January 12
Rep: 142 pts
Christine Keeler, the seductive figure from the Profumo affair, dies aged 75
Wednesday, 6 December 2017 7:45AM
Christine Keeler was a central player in a tale of a searing story of sex, intrigue and espionage.Picture: Getty Images
Christine Keeler was the woman at the heart of the notorious Profumo affair in 1963 which rocked the Establishment, convulsed Westminster and ultimately contributed to the downfall of the beleaguered Tory Government the following year.
She was the central and seductive figure in a searing story of sex, intrigue and espionage which led to the shaming of John Profumo, who was forced to quit his job as War Secretary, and to leave Parliament altogether.
It was a scandal which was both seedy and sinister, uncovering a hitherto secret world of sex, horse-play, drinking orgies and spying, in high places, in which Ms Keeler shared her favours with Mr Profumo, and Commander Eugene Ivanov, a Russian intelligence officer and the Soviet assistant naval attache in London.
The security implications - and indeed the security consequences - of a British call-girl sleeping both with the War Secretary and a Soviet spy were breathtaking.
The patrician Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, could not believe at first not only that such things could happen or that the trusted, brilliant and ambitious John Profumo could have been involved.
It was only after Mr Profumo was forced to admit that he had lied to the Commons in March 1963 when he denied any impropriety with Ms Keeler, that Mr Macmillan accepted the full enormity of the scandal.
The Conservatives, already looking careworn, had been in office for nearly 13 years, and this explosion of sleaze and scandal at the top echelons of society was enough to help topple them from power.
Christine Margaret Keeler was born in 1942. She left school at the age of 15 and left home, at Wraysbury, Bucks, a few months later. She worked as an office junior, a showroom assistant and a barmaid.
Before she was 16 she was working as a showgirl in a club in Greek Street, in the heart of London’s red-light Soho district.
After 1960, there was no obvious employment in her records, almost certainly because she had become what in those days was euphemistically termed a model.
It was during this period that she found herself launched into the unsavoury world of high-society osteopath Dr Stephen Ward, variously described as an artist and a procurer of women, as well as suspected of being a double-agent.
This marked the beginning of the biggest political sex scandal of the 20th century.
Christine Keeler was stunning, leggy and red-headed and was soon moving in Mayfair’s smartest but not necessarily the most savoury circles. Dr Ward introduced her to Mr Ivanov and Mr Profumo. Miss Keeler also had a West Indian lover, John Edgecombe, a petty criminal and film extra, whose actions, ironically sparked off the whole Profumo scandal.
Mr Edgecombe was involved in a shooting incident outside Stephen Ward’s flat. It was alleged that he fired shots at her.
He was convicted of having a firearm with intent to endanger life and sentenced to seven years.
However, Ms Keeler, who was due to give evidence at his trial, had gone missing, presumably bundled off to Madrid.
Mr Profumo was forced to make a statement to the Commons in March that year, in which he fiercely denied any impropriety in his relationship with Ms Keeler.
His assertion of a platonic friendship with Ms Keeler, which he said had ended in 1961, was accepted and Downing Street described the matter as closed.
But MPs and newspapers remained sceptical. There were thinly veiled suggestions that Ms Keeler had been packed off to her hiding-place in Madrid to avoid an embarrassing cross-examination at the Edgecombe trial and protect those in high places with whom she had cavorted.
On June 4 1963, Mr Profumo resigned after confessing that he had lied to the House.
But Ms Keeler’s troubles were not over. In December 1963, she was jailed for nine months after admitting perjury and conspiring with others to pervert the course of justice.
In 1986, Ms Keeler said: “I was just a 19-year-old girl having a good time. I loved every minute of it. But if I had known then what was going to happen, I’d have run off and not stopped until I had reached my mum.”
In 2001, Ms Keeler wrote a book in which she claimed Dr Ward ordered her to sleep with Mr Ivanov and Mr Profumo in the hope she would pass on secrets.
She made considerable sums from her memoirs, but this money was soon spent.
Although her name will forever be associated with the Profumo scandal, Ms Keeler disappeared from the scene and for years lived either at Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, or at a dingy flat in Chelsea.
She was married twice and had two sons.
How the Profumo affair unfolded:
- January 30 1915: John Profumo is born to a privileged background in Kensington, London.
- March 3 1940: Profumo is elected MP for Kettering.
- February 22 1942: Christine Keeler is born to a modest background in Uxbridge, Middlesex.
- July 1960: Profumo rises through Tory ranks and is appointed Secretary of State for War.
- July 8 1961: Keeler catches Profumo’s eye at the outdoor swimming pool of Lord Astor’s estate in Buckinghamshire where she is staying in a cottage in the grounds with her friend Dr Stephen Ward. She and Profumo have a brief affair. Keeler is also involved with Commander Eugene Ivanov, a Russian intelligence officer and the Soviet assistant naval attache in London.
- December 1962: Another of Keeler’s lovers, Johnny Edgecombe, fires shots at Stephen Ward’s flat in London, after Keeler refuses to talk to him. Rumours begin to circulate about Keeler and Profumo.
- March 22 1963: Profumo delivers a personal statement to MPs denying any ”impropriety whatever” in his relationship with Christine Keeler. Downing Street describes the matter as closed.
- June 5, 1963: Profumo resigns after admitting he misled the House of Commons about his relationship with Christine Keeler.
- October 19 1963: Prime Minister Harold Macmillan resigns.
- October 15 1964: Labour defeats the Conservatives in a general election.
- March 9 2006: John Profumo dies in London, having never spoken about the scandal which ended his political career.
- December 4 2017: Christine Keeler dies at Princess Royal University Hospital, near Farnborough after struggling to escape the notoriety of the 1960s. Her son says she paid a “huge personal price” for her place in British history.
This story was huge at the time though many younger people will never have heard of Christine Keeler. I seem to remember at the time that there was another "lady" involved - Mandy Rice Davies.
"A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on." - Winston Churchill
Posted: Dec 6 2017, 11:46 AM
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Member No.: 58
Joined: 26-April 12
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1963 was a good year for many things but I was only 2 and bit months old when this happened. I was robbed again on another scandal.
Posted: Dec 6 2017, 06:59 PM
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Joined: 20-July 11
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Wasn't she the one who had a diplomatic French letter containing a Russian discharge in her possession?
Living In An Elected Dictatorship
Flin's opinions and comments reflect his perception of the facts and not necessarily reality
Posted: Dec 7 2017, 04:18 PM
Member No.: 3
Joined: 21-July 11
Rep: 65 pts
I don't remember the details but I do remember Christine Keeler being in the headlines.
Everybody is Willing:
Some are willing to work, the rest are willing to let them!
The older I get, the better I was.
Posted: Dec 8 2017, 09:49 PM
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Member No.: 85
Joined: 17-December 13
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I seem to remember at the time that there was another "lady" involved - Mandy Rice Davies.
Mandy Rice Davies was the girl who gave the world that infamous line, "Well he would say that, wouldn't he ?", to indicate skepticism of someone's statement.
It's a tough gig being the only duck in the shooting gallery