Infamous sex scandal minister John Profumo tried to gag the press over his affair with Christine Keeler – a 19-year-old model and lover of a Soviet spy – in the 1960s, newly declassified MI5 files show
- Married Secretary of War John Profumo had an affair with Christine Keeler in 1961
- He lied to the Commons and said there had been nothing inappropriate, but later retracted
- Profumo tried to get an official D announcement to keep the press quiet about the affair
- He requested a meeting with the head of MI5, saying he was in ‘some trouble’
Sex scandal minister John Profumo tried to get a D-message to gag the press over the affair that led to his downfall, newly released files reveal.
He asked for a meeting with the manager of MI5 and said he was ‘in some trouble’ over his relationship with model Christine Keeler.
Married Tory War Secretary Profumo and Soviet spy Yevgeny Ivanov both had sex with Miss Keeler in 1961, when she was 19, after they were introduced to her by mutual friend Stephen Ward.
Profumo later lied to the Commons and claimed there had been no impropriety, but was forced to resign when the truth emerged and the scandal later helped bring down the government.
Sex scandal minister John Profumo (pictured leaving his Regent’s Park home in 1963) tried to get a D notice to gag the press over the affair that led to his downfall, newly released files reveal
He requested a meeting with the head of MI5, saying he was ‘in some trouble’ over his relationship with model Christine Keeler (pictured in 1964)
MP ‘hooted like a goose’
John Profumo would ‘coo like a wild goose’ during intimate moments, according to claims filed in the secret files.
As Stephen Ward worked on his memoirs, he told a friend, “his was the only story worth having of the whole affair”.
Ward obviously thought the ‘stories about Christine [Keeler] and the other girls were really only of interest because of the intimate technical details of the people they were involved with’.
The friend said: ‘He added, as an example, that Profumo sometimes squawked like a wild goose.’
Security Service files released today reveal his attempts to obtain a D-message – an official Whitehall instruction to the media not to print information based on national security concerns.
As the scandal threatened to engulf him, he held a meeting with MI5 Director General Sir Roger Hollis in January 1963.
The files show that Sir Roger’s deputy Graham Mitchell believed Profumo’s comments at the meeting were made ‘in the hope that there might be security reasons for us to intervene with the press, by D-notice or otherwise, to prevent publication, but that this hope was a vain one’.
Before the tangled web of relationships was widely known, Profumo had been outspoken about a proposal to encourage Ivanov to defect and work for Britain.
But the newspaper says that the minister thought he ‘should stay far away’ from it.
Another man involved with Miss Keeler fired a revolver at osteopath Ward’s home in 1962 while she was there with model Mandy Rice-Davies.
This led to a breakdown in the relationship between Miss Keeler, Profumo, Ivanov and Ward.
Russian spy with a taste for women and treble whiskey
The Russian agent at the center of the Profumo affair baffled British spies with his outrageous behaviour, security service files show.
Yevgeny Ivanov attracted attention by propositioning women at diplomatic parties, drinking heavily and driving recklessly. One memo said he was ‘aggressively cordial and argumentative’ at a cocktail party given by a US naval attache in 1960.
It noted that he ‘bathed in treble whisky’ and was seen ‘pinching sensitive parts of the anatomy’ by female guests. Ivanov, left, was also described in the secret archives as ‘suave’ but ‘conceited’.
Sir Roger wrote in a memo in January 1963: ‘Mr. Profumo asked me to see him last night and told me he was in some trouble.
He then told me about his acquaintance with Ward, during which he had met Ivanov and Christine.
‘He said he had visited Ward’s flat … on a number of occasions, generally when there had been parties there, but once or twice he had found Christine there alone. He then referred to the shooting incident…
‘He said he had been alerted that the Sunday Pictorial and News of the World had obtained a story from Christine in which she claimed a connection with him and might also bring in Ivanov’s name and say he was a Russian spy .’
Sir Roger thanked Profumo for letting him know, but said Ivanov had not been recruited ‘for our work’.
Shortly after Profumo resigned in June 1963, it was alleged in the Commons that an attempt had been made to issue a D notice concerning Ivanov.
Sir Roger said in a memo that it had not been taken into account.
Ivanov was recalled to Russia after the shooting.
Profumo, who devoted much of his life to charity after the scandal and was made a CBE, died in 2006 and Miss Keeler in 2017.
Russian spy also had a taste for alligators! But he left Harrods without one
Yevgeny Ivanov wanted a pet alligator, MI5 surveillance of the Russian spy discovered.
He even visited the pet section of Harrods in August 1962 in an apparent quest to find one.
“Ivanov had said he was interested in alligators as pets,” files released today reveal.
He was also interested in getting a dog, but said: ‘Alas for our Russian quarantine regulations’. He left Britain without a new four-legged friend.
During the sixties it was said that you could buy anything at Harrods. Its famous pet house sold all kinds of wild and exotic animals, including lion cubs.
During the same visit to Harrods, Ivanov was looking for an electric chopper. One official wrote in his case: ‘He must have been out of luck at Harrods – they don’t stock them!’