The Profumo Affair could come to mean something different as the great-nephew of one of Britain’s most scandalous politicians prepares to fight with Kurdish forces against the Turkish army in Syria.
Jamie Janson, John Profumo’s great-nephew, is just one of the many Britons who left for Syria to fight against the Islamic State when the terrorist organisation claimed Raqqa as its capital in 2014.
But volunteer fighters like Mr Janson, who took up arms with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) about seven months ago, are now finding themselves pitted against Turkish troops in Afrin, a Kurdish enclave in northern Syria.
Turkey has launched a military offensive on Afrin in recent weeks to drive Kurdish fighters, who they view as terrorists, out of the area.
Pictured, Jamie Janson, John Profumo’s great-nephew, is just one of the many Britons who left for Syria to fight against ISIS who are now finding themselves pitted against Turkish forces
The move means that Mr Janson, 42, and other British volunteers are now fighting against a NATO ally after helping the Kurds expel ISIS from much of northern and eastern Syria.
The United States on Saturday pledged to stop supplying weapons to Kurdish fighters after having supported them in their efforts to combat ISIS.
France, Russia and the US have all urged Turkey to exercise restraint in its offensive on Afrin, where the United Nations says an estimated 5,000 people have been displaced by the fighting.
Speaking over Skype to the BBC’s Emma Vardy, Mr Janson said he was prepared to fight against the Turkish military.
He said: ‘We all think a lot about what the consequences will be of our lives going forward.’
Pictured, John Profumo, the Tory minister forced to quit after a notorious 1960s sex scandal, who also had a long-running relationship with a glamorous Nazi spy
Britons have yet to be convicted for fighting against ISIS overseas but existing legislation that makes it illegal for a citizen to enlist with a foreign army has proven to be a bit of a grey area for legislators, particularly when the UK is at peace with the nation they are fighting against.
Mr Janson, who had initially been working with an aid organisation near Mosul in northern Iraq, has no regrets with remaining with the Kurds
Speaking to The Telegraph, he said: ‘It has been a difficult decision to go to Afrin. Fighting ISIS is obviously a different ballgame to taking on Britain’s NATO ally.
‘I’m well aware that I could face prosecution if and when I return home.’
Mr Janson’s grandparents are Harold Balfour, a flying ace of the First World War, and Mary Profumo, sister of John Profumo, the Tory minister forced to quit after a notorious 1960s sex scandal with 19-year-old Catherine Keeler.
‘My grandfather told me about his time in the war when I was growing up,’ Mr Janson told The Telegraph.
‘His experience wasn’t a direct inspiration for becoming a fighter as such, but it has been playing on my mind while I’ve been here, what he went through and the sacrifices he made for his country.’
The UN said most of the displaced are still inside Afrin because Kurdish forces are preventing civilians from leaving and Syrian government forces are keeping them out of adjacent areas.
TIMELINE: The Profumo affair
The Profumo affair had it all – sex, lies and espionage. It broke at the height of the Cold War, when spying was rife and the threat of war was imminent with the outbreak of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Here we look back at how the scandal unfolded:
April 1960: At the height of the Cold War, Christine Keeler, having left her home in Wraysbury, Berks, heads for London and begins working at Murray’s Cabaret Club in Soho. It is there that she meets Dr Stephen Ward, a London osteopath. Within weeks she had moved into his Bayswater flat. She soon meets Mandy Rice-Davies at Murray’s and the pair become party companions.
July 1961: Ward introduces 19-year-old Keeler to Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, while at a party thrown by Lord and Lady Astor at their stately home in Cliveden at Taplow, Bucks. Keeler and Profumo embark on an affair lasting only a few weeks. At the same time, she becomes involved in an affair with Commander Eugene Ivanov, a Soviet naval attaché at the Russian Embassy in London.
March 1963: After months of speculation among MPs, Profumo is forced to face the Commons, where he says: ‘There was no impropriety whatever in my acquaintance with Miss Keeler and I have made the statement because of what was said yesterday in the House by three honourable members whose remarks were protected by privilege.’
June 1963: Ward is arrested in Watford and taken to Marylebone Police Station where he is charged with living off immoral earnings. His trial soon begins at the Old Bailey.
June 5, 1963: Profumo resigns his Cabinet post after admitting lying to the House of Commons about the nature of his relationship with Keeler.
August 1963: On the last day of his trial, Ward is found dead at his London home having taken an overdose of sleeping pills.
December 1963: Keeler is found guilty of perjury in a related trial and imprisoned for nine months.
1989: The Profumo affair is made into a film called Scandal, starring John Hurt, Ian McKellen and Joanne Whalley.