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John Major relished opportunity to read secret files on Profumo affair

John Major relished opportunity to read secret files on Profumo affair… then banned them from being published for another 70 years

  • Scandal rocked establishment after minister John Profumo enjoyed liaisons with Christine Keeler, 19 
  • Keeler’s alleged pimp was on familiar enough terms with Duke of Edinburgh to be allowed to draw his portrait
  • Respected judge Lord Denning was invited to pursue an ultra-confidential one-man inquiry into the affair

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Sir John Major (pictured) seems to have seized the chance to peruse them – but sadly for us, his government deemed the contents so explosive that they put off their public release until 2063

Given how dramatic the Press reports were, Whitehall’s secret files on the Profumo affair must make for some rather racy reading.

Sir John Major seems to have seized the chance to peruse them – but sadly for us, his government deemed the contents so explosive that they put off their public release until 2063.

The scandal rocked the establishment when it emerged minister John Profumo had enjoyed liaisons with 19-year-old Christine Keeler, who was also having an affair with a Soviet attaché. 

Stephen Ward, a society osteopath and Keeler’s alleged pimp, was on familiar enough terms with the Duke of Edinburgh to be allowed to draw his portrait.

Amid myriad allegations of high-level sex, sleaze and security risks, respected judge Lord Denning was invited to pursue an ultra-confidential one-man inquiry into the affair. 

He concluded in his report published in September 1963 that there had been no security risks. It was viewed by some as a typical Establishment whitewash.

The very evidence he gathered – assumed to have contained deeply embarrassing allegations about the upper crust – was suppressed, with Lord Denning himself asking for it to be destroyed. 

However, this task was never undertaken.

Continuing secrecy, despite many calls for transparency over the years, has been blamed on an assumption that figures named in the dossier are still alive.

The scandal rocked the establishment when it emerged minister John Profumo (pictured) had enjoyed liaisons with 19-year-old Christine Keeler, who was also having an affair with a Soviet attaché

The scandal rocked the establishment when it emerged minister John Profumo (pictured) had enjoyed liaisons with 19-year-old Christine Keeler, who was also having an affair with a Soviet attaché

Whitehall was sitting on the material three decades later in 1993, meaning the documents should have been publicly released according to the ’30 year rule’.

At this point, then prime minister Sir John and the Lord Chancellor, James Mackay, were invited to revisit the issue.

Writing to Sir John, Cabinet Secretary Sir Robin Butler revealed that the material ‘is stored in the strongroom in my office’. 

He said the Lord Chancellor, as well as the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, agreed it should be kept secret for another 70 years.

They believed ‘it would be wrong to destroy the papers … they reflect an extraordinary episode and evoke the character of the 1960s in a very powerful way … on the other hand, given Lord Denning’s assurance to witnesses, it would not be appropriate to open the material after 30 years’.

Stephen Ward, a society osteopath and Keeler’s (pictured in 1964) alleged pimp, was on familiar enough terms with the Duke of Edinburgh to be allowed to draw his portrait.

Newly-released files show Alex Allan, principal private secretary to Sir John, noted on the letter: ‘Prime Minister, content?’

He added cheekily: ‘It is very tempting to suggest that you could not take such a decision without studying the evidence personally!’ 

Days later, Mr Allan informed Sir Robin that Sir John was ‘content with the decision that the evidence should be withheld for 100 years’. However, he added cryptically: ‘There is one point he would like to discuss with you.’

Mr Allan’s handwritten addition two days later appears to reveal the point he wished to raise. He wrote: ‘No problem if PM wants to go round to [Butler’s] office and read extracts.’

Sir John’s Major’s office declined to comment.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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