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 unsealed MI5 files reveal
- Married war secretary John Profumo had an affair with Christine Keeler in 1961
- He lied to the Commons saying there had been no impropriety but later resigned
- Profumo tried to get an official D-notice to keep the press quiet over 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-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 and said he was ‘in some trouble’ over his relationship with model Christine Keeler.
Married Tory war minister Profumo and Soviet spy Yevgeny Ivanov were both having 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, claiming there had been no impropriety, but was forced to resign when the truth emerged and the scandal later helped to topple the government.
Sex scandal minister John Profumo (pictured leaving his home in Regent’s Park 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 and said he was ‘in some trouble’ over his relationship with model Christine Keeler (pictured in 1964)
MP ‘honked like a goose’
John Profumo would ‘honk like a wild goose’ during intimate moments, according to claims lodged in the secret files.
While Stephen Ward was working on his memoirs, he told a friend ‘his was the only story worth having about the whole affair’.
Ward apparently thought ‘the stories of Christine [Keeler] and the other girls were really only of interest because of the intimate technical details concerning the people with whom they were involved’.
The friend said: ‘He added by way of example that Profumo used to honk like a wild goose at times.’
Security service files, which are released today, reveal his attempt to obtain a D-notice – 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’s director general Sir Roger Hollis in January 1963.
The files show Sir Roger’s deputy Graham Mitchell thought Profumo’s comments at the meeting were made ‘in the hope that there might be security grounds for our taking action 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 were widely known, Profumo had been sounded out about a proposal to encourage Ivanov to defect and work for the UK.
But the papers say the minister thought that he ‘ought to keep well away’ from that.
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.
That led to the relationship between Miss Keeler, Profumo, Ivanov and Ward unravelling.
Russian spy with a taste for women and treble whiskies
The Russian agent at the centre of the Profumo affair baffled UK spies with his outrageous behaviour, the security service files show.
Yevgeny Ivanov drew attention by propositioning women at diplomatic parties, drinking heavily and driving recklessly. One memo said he was ‘aggressively hearty and argumentative’ at a cocktail event given by a US naval attaché in 1960.
It noted he was ‘asking for treble whiskies’ and was seen ‘pinching sensitive portions of the anatomy’ of female guests. Ivanov, left, was also described in the secret files 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 that he was in some trouble.
‘He then gave me an account of his acquaintanceship with Ward in the course of which he had met Ivanov and Christine.
‘He said that 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 warned that the Sunday Pictorial and the News of the World had got a story from Christine in which she alleged an association with him and might also bring in Ivanov’s name saying that he was a Russian spy.’
Sir Roger thanked Profumo for letting him know, but said Ivanov had not been enlisted ‘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 in respect of Ivanov.
Sir Roger said in a memo ‘no consideration’ had been given to it.
Ivanov was called back 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’s surveillance of the Russian spy discovered.
He even visited the pet department at 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 interested in getting a dog too, but said: ‘Alas for our Russian quarantine regulations’. He left the UK without a new four-legged friend.
During the Sixties it was said you could buy anything at Harrods. Its famous pet emporium sold all sorts of wild and exotic animals, including lion cubs.
During the same visit to Harrods, Ivanov was looking for an electric mincer. An official wrote on his file: ‘He will have been out of luck at Harrods – they don’t stock them!’