Saturday, 4 December 2021

Profumo sex scandal showgirl Christine Keeler dies aged 75

Christine Keeler leaving the Ariel Hotel, London, after her return from Spain, 29th March 1963. Two weeks previously, she had failed to give evidence in the trial of her former boyfriend John Edgecombe.  (Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

LONDON: A former model whose affair with a leading Tory cabinet minister shook British Politics in the 1960s and led to the downfall of the Tory government has died aged 75.

Christine Keeler passed away on Monday after suffering from a lung condition for several months.

She was propelled into the spotlight aged 19 when she had an affair with Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, and a Russian diplomat at the same time at the height of the Cold War.

Christine Keeler 2

The scandal rocked the establishment to its core and led to Harold Macmillan quitting as prime minister.

Speaking yesterday Keeler’s son, Seymour Platt, 46, told at the Princess Royal university hospital in Farnborough that she “passed away last night at about 11.30pm.”

She had been ill for several months, and suffered from the lung disease COPD.

Platt, who lives in Ireland, said he, his wife and their daughter had last seen his mother a week before her death.

He said: “There was a lot of good around Chris’s rather tragic life, because there was a family around her that loved her.

“I think what happened to her back in the day was quite damaging.”

In 2013 the former model and showgirl was photographed in public for the first time in seven years, looking unrecognisable from the fresh-faced vixen embroiled in Profumo affair.

At the time she revelled in her notoriety and sold her story to newspapers all over the world and even wrote a book but she had gone to ground in recent years and was said to be living in sheltered accommodation in South London.

She was just 19 at the time she had affairs with both John Profumo, Secretary of State for War, who was married to actress Valerie Hobson, and Russian military attache Yevgeny Ivanov, who was based in London.

She was working as a cabaret dancer in London’s Soho when she was introduced to both men in 1961 by Stephen Ward, an osteopath, artist and “man about town”.

The relationships came to light in 1963 amid fears of a cold war security leak and Profumo told the House of Commons there was no “impropriety” in response to MPs concerned about national security.

But he was forced to admit lying to the house after more newspaper stories emerged, and resigned from the cabinet and the Commons.

Christine Keeler 1

Ward was then arrested and put on trial accused of pimping Keeler and her teenage friend Mandy Rice-Davies – who died in 2014. The pair always denied being prostitutes and Ward took an overdose and died days later.

The Profumo affair convulsed Westminster for nearly six months and at the height of the crisis, Cabinet ministers feared some of their colleagues might become the targets for scandal-mongers.

In the end the seediness of the Profumo affair proved fatal to 13 years of unbroken Tory rule.

Before the year was out, Macmillan resigned as prime minister and was replaced by Sir Alec Douglas-Home, who lost the general election .

Profumo suffered scandal without reply.

The summer he fell, he made a vow of silence and never opened his mouth again to answer any criticism or misrepresentation, however unfair.

The only time he spoke of it was to his son David who produced the memoir Bringing The House Down.

Profumo served penance for parliamentary dishonour with more than 30 years of charity work among the poor in the East End of London.

In 1975 he came in from the cold with a CBE for his work at Toynbee Hall, the East End settlement where he began the long road to rehabilitation washing dishes and helping meths drinkers.

In 2003, the 40th anniversary of the Profumo scandal, all-party efforts were made in the Commons to restore his Privy Counsellorship.

Profumo died in hospital on March 9 2006 after a stroke.

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