During last Thursday’s question time in the House of Lords, the Labour peer Lord Dubs claimed that “the conviction of Stephen Ward is probably the most significant miscarriages of justice in modern British history... It seems to me part of a cover-up that has gone on since 1964.”
That “cover up” concerns documents relating to the case of Ward, a high-profile figure in the Profumo affair, and events which ultimately led to the resignation of Conservative Prime Minister Harold MacMillan, and a Tory defeat in the 1964 General Election.
Earlier this month, Mandy Rice-Davies – a former model who lived with Christine Keeler, the young woman at the centre of the Profumo affair – challenged a government assertion that potentially crucial documents concerning Ward’s case “could not be located”. Those documents are apparently in one of six files pertaining to the case, the other five of which are all available to the public.
Some have claimed that Ward was made a scapegoat in the scandal that rocked Parliament. Ward had introduced Keeler to John Profumo, the secretary of state for war: the couple embarked on an affair, before it was revealed that Keeler had also been involved with a Russian spy named Ivanov. Profumo famously lied to parliament, but his political demise was only delayed. Ward, however, was put on trial for living off the earnings of prostitutes, and the society osteopath committed suicide after he was found guilty.
Ms Rice-Davies believes the closed file contains a full transcript of the court proceedings and witness statements given in the lead up to trial, which could perhaps highlight issues with Ward’s conviction. But irrespective of what secrets the file may hold, and whether or not some documents have been mislaid, it looks like the truth may remain hidden until well after all the main protagonists have died.
With the fallout from the affair being felt during 1964, it is curious to note that the actresses who played Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies in the 1989 movie about the scandal... called Scandal were both born in 1964. Whilst Joanne Whalley (left, who portrayed Keeler) will celebrate turning fifty in August, today is her co-star Bridget Fonda’s birthday.
Bridget hasn’t been seen on the big screen for over a decade now, but as I approach my own half century, I just wanted to wish Bridget many happy returns, in the hope she’ll send me a card in June!!!