(1) FBI document (July, 1963)
Reference is made to my letter of June 24, 1963, which you returned to the Assistant Director C. A. Evans on July 2, 1963. At the time you inquired if we had learned what Christine (Keeler) and her friend did in the U.S. when they were here...
It has been learned that Christine Keeler and Marilyn Rice-Davies arrived in the U.S. aboard the SS Niew Amsterdam on July 11, 1962. They registered at the Hotel Bedford, 118 East 42nd Street, New York City, July 11, 1962, and re-registered on July 16, 1962. Hotel records do not show a date of departure; however, they did leave the U.S. on July 18, 1962, by British Overseas Airways Corporation plane.
(2) Mandy Rice-Davies, Mandy (1980)
It is difficult to equate the public image of Christine, as the hard bitten go-getter, with the Christine I knew. She was shy and quiet, domesticated in that she liked to cook and play house, at the same time sweet and amusing company. She had a good sense of humour, not particularly witty because she was never sharp in that way, but light, easy company.
She had not enjoyed a happy childhood, but there was no bitterness about her. She flipped through life, a day, a night at a time, not bothering about what would follow.
Had she been an intellectual, you would have said she led a bohemian existence. She had the way of a waif, infuriating yet always making you feel you must help her. Disorganised to the point of helplessness, she attracted people who were the opposite, who felt they could sort out her practical problems and lift her out of her day-to-day chaos. She was an undemanding friend, happiest with people who made no demands on her. I enjoyed her company and learned never to rely on her for anything.
She liked men and had an unerring eye for what women understand as an absolute bastard. We used to joke that Christine would walk into a room with twenty eligible bachelors and make a beeline for the one out-and-out rotter. She fell in love frequently, passionately and unreservedly. She left herself wide open to being treated badly because she did nothing to protect herself. Often her intensity actually scared the man off after a brief fling and Christine would be left lovesick and forlorn and asking where had she gone wrong. But not for long, and then somebody else was on the scene. At one extreme she was impressed by older, successful men, at the other she had an unhealthy penchant for the flotsam of the demi monde. It was her predilection for West Indians which had led to her introduction to soft drugs. She had a healthy sex drive and assumed that there was but one logical conclusion to sexual attraction.
Although my own experience, when we first met, in no way matched hers, I never questioned her way of life. In the society in which we moved, people did not question each other's behaviour. She had many men friends, some with whom she had once had an affair and many others who were platonic friends. Men were madly attracted to Christine, and remained close to her long after the passionate interlude, had it taken place, was over.
(3) Report by Detective Sergeant John Burrows on his interview of Christine Keeler (January 1963)
She said that Doctor Ward was a procurer of young women for gentlemen in high places and was sexually perverted: that he had a country cottage at Cliveden to which some of these women were taken to meet important men - the cottage was on the estate of Lord Astor; that he had introduced her to Mr John Profumo and that she had an association with him; that Mr Profumo had written a number of letters to her on War Office notepaper and that she was still in possession of one of these letters which were being considered for publication in the Sunday Pictorial to whom she had sold her life story for £1,000. She also said that on one occasion when she was going to meet Mr Profumo, Ward had asked her to discover from him the date on which certain atomic secrets were to be handed over to West Germany by the Americans, and that this was at the time of the Cuban crisis. She also said she had been introduced by Ward to the Naval Attache of the Soviet Embassy and had met him on a number of occasions.
(4) John Profumo, statement (22nd March, 1963)
I understand that in the debate on the Consolidated Fund Bill last night, under the protection of parliamentary privilege, the Hon. Gentlemen the Members for Dudley (George Wigg) and for Coventry, East (Richard Crossman), and the Hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Barbara Castle), opposite, spoke of rumours connecting a Minister with a Miss Keeler and a recent trial at the Central Criminal Court. It was alleged that people in high places might have been responsible for concealing information concerning the disappearance of a witness and the perversion of justice.
I understand that my name has been connected with the rumours about the disappearance of Miss Keeler. I would like to take this opportunity of making a personal statement about these matters. I last saw Miss Keeler in December 1961, and I have not seen her since. I have no idea where she is now. Any suggestion that I was in any way connected with or responsible for her absence from the trial at the Old Bailey is wholly and completely untrue.
My wife and I first met Miss Keeler at a house party in July 1961, at Cliveden. Among a number of people there was Doctor Stephen Ward whom we already knew slightly, and a Mr Ivanov, who was an attache at the Russian Embassy.
The only other occasion that my wife or I met Mr Ivanov was for a moment at the official reception for Major Gagarin at the Soviet Embassy.
My wife and I had a standing invitation to visit Doctor Ward.
Between July and December, 1961, I met Miss Keeler on about half a dozen occasions at Doctor Ward's flat, when I called to see him and his friends. Miss Keeler and, I were on friendly terms. There was no impropriety whatsoever in my acquaintanceship with Miss Keeler.
Mr Speaker, I have made this personal statement because of what was said in the House last evening by the three Hon. Members, and which, of course, was protected by privilege. I shall not hesitate to issue writs for libel and slander if scandalous allegations are made or repeated outside of the House.
(5) The Denning Report (1963)
After they got back to the flat Christine Keeler telephoned Mr. Michael Eddowes. (He was a retired solicitor who was a friend and patient of Stephen Ward and had seen a good deal of him at this time. He had befriended Christine Keeler and had taken her to see her mother once or twice.) Mr. Eddowes went round to see her. She told him of the shooting. He already knew from Stephen Ward something of her relations with Captain Ivanov and Mr. Profumo, and he asked her about them. He was most interested and subsequently noted it down in writing, and in March he reported it to the police. He followed it up by employing an ex-member of the Metropolitan Police to act as detective on his behalf to gather information.
(6) Time Magazine (1st May, 1989)
Britain's Minister of War John Profumo, husband of refined movie star Valerie Hobson, has been sharing the sexual favors of teen tart Christine Keeler with Soviet spy Eugene Ivanov . . . Keeler's blond pal Mandy Rice-Davies, 18, declared in court that she had bedded Lord Astor and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. . . . Mariella Novotny, who claims John F. Kennedy among her lovers, hosted an all-star orgy where a naked gent, thought to be film director and Prime Minister's son Anthony Asquith, implored guests to beat him . . . Osteopath and artist Stephen Ward, whose portrait subjects include eight members of the Royal Family, has been charged with pimping Keeler and Rice-Davies to his posh friends. Part of Ward's bail was reportedly posted by young financier Claus von Bulow.
(7) Philip Knightley, An Affair of State (1987)
Christine knew nothing of "cheque book journalism", but she had friends who did: Paul Mann, the racing driver/journalist and Nina Gadd, a freelance writer. Together they convinced her that, if she listened to them, she could make a small fortune. They reminded her that she was constantly broke and that Lucky Gordon was still making her life miserable. They told her they had been in touch with certain newspapers in Fleet Street which were prepared to offer her a great deal of money. This was true. Several newspapers were interested in Christine Keeler, especially when her appearance at the committal hearings of the Edgecombe shooting case at Marlborough Street Court reminded editors of the rumour floating around Fleet Street about her: that she was having an affair with Profumo.
There were problems, of course. The first was the English contempt law. No newspapers could publish anything about Christine's relationship with Edgecombe until his trial was over because the details of it were central to the charge. Next, there were the libel laws. If Christine's memoirs named other lovers, unless there was solid proof that what she said was true, they might sue for defamation. On the other hand most of the news at that time was bad, and a light sexy story of an English suburban girl who could arouse such passions - "I love the girl," Edgecombe had said, "I was sick in the stomach over her" - would certainly appeal to the readers of the Sunday sensational press.
Nina Gadd knew a reporter on the Sunday Pictorial, so on 22 January, with Mandy along to steady her resolve, Christine walked into the newspaper office carrying Profumo's farewell letter in her handbag. The newspaper's executives heard her out, looked at the letter, photographed it and offered her £1,000 for the right to publish it. Christine said she would think it over. She left the offices of the Sunday Pictorial and went straight to those of the News of the World, off Fleet Street. There she saw the paper's crime reporter, Peter Earle. Earle was desperate to have the story - for reasons that will emerge - but Christine made the mistake of telling him that his offer would have to be better than £1,000 because she had been offered that by another newspaper. Earle, who had had long experience of cheque book journalism, told Christine bluntly that she could go to the devil; he was not joining any auction.
So Christine went back to the Sunday Pictorial, accepted its offer and was paid £200 in advance. Over the next two days she told her entire life story to two Sunday Pictorial reporters. They soon saw that the nub of any newspaper article was her relationship with Profumo and Ivanov. It is easy to imagine how the story emerged. Christine was being paid £1,000 for her memoirs. The second slice, £800, was due only on publication. If the story did not reach the newspaper's expectations, Christine would not get it. She was anxious therefore to please the Sunday Pictorial reporters and dredged her memory for items that interested them. The trend of their questions would soon have indicated what items these were.
(8) Anthony Summers, Honeytrap (1987)
On 22 January 1963 came the logical outcome of Christine Keeler's contacts with the Sunday Pictorial, the newspaper that had infiltrated Keeler's circle through her friend Nina Gadd. For a down payment of £200 - and the promise of £800 to come - Keeler told, the Pictorial everything. With the deft help of professional, an accurate draft story was assembled. The truth was told better in this first draft than it ever would be when Fleet Street finally broke into print. Speaking of her relations with Profumo and Ivanov, Keeler said: "If that Russian ... had placed a tape-recorder or cine camera or both in some hidden place in my bedroom it would have been very embarrassing for the Minister, to say the least. In fact it would have left him open to the worst possible kind of blackmail - the blackmail of a spy... This Minister had such knowledge of the military affairs of the Western world that he would be one of the most valuable men in the world for the Russians to have had in their power..."
The article referred to the request that Keeler ask Profumo about nuclear-armed weapons for Germany. Finally, as proof that there really had been an affair, Keeler gave the journalists Profumo's letter of 9 August 1961, addressing her as "Darling". A copy was placed in the safe at the office of the Pictorial. The story was dynamite, but, as is the way with Sunday newspapers, the editors did not rush into print. What with cross-checking, and the need to have Keeler authenticate the final version, nearly three weeks slipped by - time for much skulduggery.
Four days after telling all to the Pictorial, on Saturday 26 January, Keeler had a tiff with Stephen Ward. It happened when Ward, not knowing that Keeler was listening in, had a telephone conversation with Keeler's current flatmate. The Edgecombe shooting incident was proving a nuisance, and he burst out: "I'm absolutely furious with her ... she's ruining my business. I never know what she'll do next, the silly girl..."
Keeler was angry. What she did next was to tell the Profumo story all over again, this time with Ward as the villain of the piece, the man who had made all the introductions. She told the story to the next person who came to the door, who by unhappy chance was an officer in the Metropolitan Police calling to say that Keeler and Rice-Davies would have to appear at John Edgecombe's trial. The detective listened to Keeler, then went back to the office and filed a report. It included all the main elements of the story, along with the allegation that "Dr Ward was a procurer for gentlemen in high places, and was sexually perverted," and the fact that the Pictorial already had the story. The detective's report went to his Inspector, and - given the content - he passed it on to Special Branch, the police unit which liaises with M15.
That same Saturday, Stephen Ward learned from a reporter of the impending story in the Sunday Pictorial. He was the first of the principal male characters to learn of impending disaster. Ward at once demonstrated a loyalty to his friends that none of them would ever show towards him. "I was anxious," he said in his memoir, "to save Profumo and Astor from the consequences..."
Next morning, Monday the 28th, Ward called Lord Astor. The two men met, Astor also took legal advice, then personally took the bad news to the Minister for War. The time was 5.30 p.m.
Profumo's immediate response was remarkable - he urgently contacted the Director-General of M15, Sir Roger Hollis. It was an unusual procedure for a minister of Profumo's rank to call in the head of M15. Yet Hollis was sitting in Profumo's office in just over an hour. Both men, of course, remembered the occasion in 1961 when MI5, through the Cabinet Secretary, asked Profumo to take part in the Honeytrap operation to make Ivanov defect. Now, so far as Hollis could tell, Profumo wanted help in getting a "D Notice" - a Government gag - slapped on the Sunday Pictorial. Hollis failed to oblige.
(9) Christine Keeler, The Truth at Last (2001)
Before the beginning of one of the greatest miscarriages of British justice ever, in early July 1963 I had to go to see Lord Denning at the government offices near Leicester Square. Denning had started hearing evidence on 24 June 1963, and interviewed Stephen three times and talked to Jack Profumo twice. He talked to lots of people - from the prime minister to newspaper owners and reporters, to six girls who knew Stephen.
I was not included in that half-dozen. I found myself a major player in the inquiry and had two interviews with Denning. I was allowed to have a legal representative and Walter Lyons went with me to the polished-wood-panelled offices Denning used. Denning was quietly spoken and asked me all the relevant questions, the ones I had expected. Questions like who had been present with Eugene and Stephen and where and when, and if I knew of any missiles. I answered him honestly. Denning had all the - well, all the ones they had given him - police, M15 and CIA reports before him. He also had Sir Godfrey Nicholson's and Lord Arran's statements.
He knew that Stephen was a spy and that I knew too much. During my two sessions with him I told him all about Hollis and Blunt: how Stephen had politely introduced me and how I had said "hello" and nodded when they visited. I told him all about Sir Godfrey's visit and how I had seen Sir Godfrey with Eugene. He asked me very precisely who had met Eugene and about the visitors to Wimpole Mews. He showed me a photograph of Hollis - it wasn't a sharp shot of him - and asked me to identify him. I told Denning this was the man who had visited Stephen. He showed me a photograph of Sir Godfrey and I also identified him. He did not show me a picture of Blunt for, I suspect, they already knew more than they wanted to know about Blunt. Denning was very gentle about it and I told him everything. This was the nice gentleman who was going to look after me. But I was ignored, side-lined - disparaged as a liar so that he could claim that there had been no security risk. It was the ultimate whitewash.
I told Denning that Stephen had wanted me dead because I could have betrayed them all. I told him I had been entrapped in Stephen's spy ring and had witnessed his meetings with double agents and Soviet spies. I told him I had taken sensitive material to the Russian Embassy. He ignored my evidence that Stephen Ward was a Russian spy and that one of the top men in British intelligence was a Moscow man.
I was a young girl when I met Stephen Ward and not much more than a teenager when I was interviewed by Lord Denning. Like Stephen, he seemed a father figure.
I told him all about Stephen's spying activities and about high society decadence. Denning chose - as with everything in his flawed report - to ignore me for the national interest. I told him about Stephen saying John Kennedy was "too dangerous" and would have to be "put out of the picture". That Kennedy was the main threat to world peace. A few months later Kennedy was killed in Dallas. I was told to be quiet or else. I was terrified.
Fearful about what secrets Stephen had sent to Moscow Centre, when he produced his report Denning had Eugene being introduced to Cliveden with Arran on 28 October 1962, and to Lord Ednam's home on 26 December 1962. He used dates and places to cover up all that happened and denied all the evidence he had from me and others. He wrote his report to have Mandy take over my life and had her living at Wimpole Mews on 31 October 1962. It was rubbish and it introduced her to people and events she knew nothing about. And Mandy made as much capital as she could from that.
(10) Peregrine Worsthorne, The New Statesman (26th February, 2001)
Read as fiction, Christine Keeler's The Truth at Last makes for quite a gripping thriller, and provides more than enough new angles on the familiar story of the 1960s Profumo scandal to make it just worth reading. "New angles" is an understatement: Keeler's story turns the familiar one on its head, and transforms the artist-osteopath Stephen Ward from a charming, persecuted pimp into a sinister and murderous Soviet spymaster controlling not only Anthony Blunt, but also Sir Roger Hollis, then head of MI5.
Other sensational novelties include a walk-on part for Oswald Mosley, the prewar fascist leader, who is numbered among her many famous clients, and the suggestion that my first editor at the Daily Telegraph, Sir Colin Coote, much decorated as a First World War hero, was not quite the silken-haired patriot he seemed. Apparently, it was not only at the Garrick Club that he used to wine and dine Ward, who treated his back. Those innocent meetings, it seems, were merely a cover for hitherto unknown, more conspiratorial encounters.
Nothing is impossible these days. After all, if a Master of the Queen's Pictures can turn out to be a spy, then surely it cannot be ruled out that an editor of the Daily Telegraph could also be one. In any case, now that I come to think of it, there was always something a bit hairy-heeled about Coote - his friendship with Lord Boothby, for example, and the mysterious way he had walked out, quite literally, on his first wife. Rumour had always had it that the two of them, in the 1930s, were having afternoon tea in Brown's - then as now the country set's favourite London hotel - when a glamorous, foreign-looking lady passed by. Coote took one glance and, without saying another word to his wife (whom he never saw again), followed the woman out of the hotel. She became his second wife. I remember her well. She was a Dutch girl whom Coote had not seen since falling in love with her years earlier while he was serving in Flanders during the First World War.
All a bit James Bondish, one has to admit. So perhaps, after all, Keeler's suspicions have some substance. Then, as happens so often in this book, a small detail in the narrative sets alarm bells ringing - in this case, the news that those conspiratorial meetings between Coote and Ward took place in, of all places, a Kenco coffee shop. The thought of Sir Colin Coote, DSO, an archetypal six-foot Edwardian boulevardier, epicure and wine buff, conducting any type of business in a London coffee bar well and truly beggars belief.
Unfortunately, there is much else in Keeler's "truth" that also beggars belief. Take the following passage describing her life with Ward during the Cuban missile crisis. "I spent 48 hours worrying before going back to Wimpole Mews [Ward's consulting rooms] on what was to be a turbulent, landmark day. Eugene [Ivanov, the Soviet military attache] was there. He and Stephen were just off to lunch with Lord Arran, the permanent under-secretary, [with a view to setting up] a summit conference." Lord Arran, known to us all as Boofie, was a delightfully scatty alcoholic peer, and occasional journalist, who later played a central role in the legalisation of homosexuality. He is no more to be confused - except, possibly, in a TV serial - with a permanent under-secretary, the highest rank in the Civil Service, than is the equally eccentric and delightful Earl of Onslow today. As for the summit conference that Boofie was expected to call, it is easier to imagine its location - the bar at White's Club - than its participants, who could not have included Keeler herself.
But I am digressing, because the kernel of the book is the claim that Ward was a (possibly the) senior Soviet spy in London during the late 1950s and 1960s, at the height of the cold war. Keeler portrays him as not just a master spy, but a particularly ruthless one - to the extent that he tried to drown her in the stretch of the Thames that flows beside the famous Cliveden Cottage, lent to Ward by Lord Astor. The reason why he wanted to drown her, it seems, was that she knew too much, having been allowed to listen into all his lengthy conversations about defence matters with Ivanov, Hollis and the Tory MP Sir Godfrey Nicholson. Not that Keeler allowed the attempted murder to worry her overmuch: her life with Ward, and indeed her love (strictly platonic, we are told), seem to have continued without interruption.
Keeler makes no attempt to disguise her life's hedonistic irresponsibility. According to her, she had no choice. What she calls the "diktat" of the Sixties zeitgeist, to which she was powerless to say nay, was "to do anything you wanted" and "to think only of yourself". No regrets on that front. What irks her is the jury's verdict that Ward was guilty of living off immoral earnings; and what she wants to make clear in her book is that the official "establishment" version of the Profumo scandal, drawn up by Lord Denning in the famous report of that name, which damned him as a pimp and her as a tart, did them less than justice.
And, in a way, that is true. Keeler's book does convince one that neither of them were in the sex business for money. But while the alternative role in which she prefers to cast herself - that of a good-time girl out only for kicks - is entirely plausible, the one in which she tries to cast Ward - that of murderous Soviet spymaster - is not. And even if it were, why is she so sure that he would prefer to be remembered as a traitor, rather than a pimp? But Keeler is sure. She writes that she has "never cried so deeply" as when they found Stephen "guilty of living off immoral earnings", and that when later she heard complete strangers in the street "putting Stephen down, calling him dirty names", her hatred of them was "violent and complete". How could the wicked establishment have done him such dirt? She owed it to him to put the record straight; to wipe those naughty words off the slate; to make sure that posterity is never allowed to forget that Stephen Ward was nothing as naughty as a pimp, just a mere traitor.
Can that really be Keeler's motive? A part of me wants to believe in her sincerity; that, on her scale of criminal values, pimping is worse than treason. But there again, a certain scepticism persists, for one can't help remembering her understandably hateful feelings towards Ward after his botched attempt on her life. It is just possible that her book aims not to clear his name, but to blacken it still further.