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  More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)
Profumo Affair

The most extensive political scandal in Britain in the postwar years. John Profumo (b. 1915) had been secretary of state for war (a non-cabinet post) since 1960 in the Macmillan government. Rumours began circulating that he was involved with a prostitute, Christine Keeler, who was also sleeping with Yevgeny Ivanov, a naval attaché at Russia's London embassy. In March 1963 Profumo assured the House of Commons that there was no truth in this. In June he confessed that he had lied and resigned his seat.

The doubts cast upon the efficiency of the security service almost caused the fall of the government, and details began to emerge of a political lifestyle unsuspected by the public. Profumo, it seemed, had first met Keeler when she was bathing naked at Lord Astor's mansion, *Cliveden. They had been introduced by an artist and osteopath, Stephen Ward, who had a cottage there. Another girl in Ward's entourage, Mandy Rice-Davies, had shared a flat with Keeler and had been the mistress of *Rachman (it was through the resulting publicity that Rachman's unsavoury activities came to the surface).

Stephen Ward was charged with living off immoral earnings, and his trial in July exposed further titillating details. It also launched on its career one very useful phrase: when Mandy Rice-Davies was informed that Lord Astor had denied her allegations, she replied 'He would, wouldn't he?' Before the trial had ended, Ward committed suicide.

In September Lord Denning published his report on the affair, concluding that security had not been affected but that the government had been lax in responding to the issue. Denning also assured the public that an anonymous man, much discussed because of his peculiar fancy (waiting on dinner parties naked except for a mask), was not a government minister. Keeler was jailed for nine months later that year for perjury in another case. Profumo, over the following years, established a new reputation in social work and adult education (for which he was awarded the CBE in 1975).

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