Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Profumo

KGB did bug Profumo and Keeler pillow talk to steal nuclear secrets

By Jason Lewis
Last updated at 10:42 PM on 24th July 2010

  • FBI files reveal unidentified Minister acted as waiter at orgy – dressed only in black hood and pink ribbon
The KGB planted bugs to eavesdrop on John Profumo’s pillow talk with Christine Keeler, according to newly released top-secret files.
The topless showgirl and model’s KGB lover also persuaded her to question Profumo, Britain’s Minister of War, about Britain’s nuclear arsenal, the files reveal.
The reports claim that the Russians obtained ‘a lot of information’ which threatened to undermine Western security, contradicting the long-term view that the affair did not damage UK security and that no secrets were leaked to Russia.
Scandal: Christine Keeler, whose affairs with a Minister and a Soviet spy caused a crisis in the British Government in 1963
Scandal: Christine Keeler, whose affairs with a Minister and a Soviet spy caused a crisis in the British Government in 1963
And the files also reveal details of society dinner parties  descending into debauched orgies, with, on one occasion, a naked Government Minister acting as a waiter.
Unknown to Profumo, his lover Keeler was also involved with the spy Yevgeni Ivanov, a naval attache at the Soviet embassy in London.
The affair’s exposure in 1963 led to Profumo’s resignation and rocked Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s Government.
The FBI files, declassified under the US Freedom of Information Act, reveal Keeler confessed Ivanov asked her to obtain information about the movement of Britain’s nuclear warheads and that the operation led to Profumo being a ‘blackmail victim’.
The files suggest the US, during delicate negotiations between Macmillan and President John F. Kennedy on the sale of the Polaris missile to the UK, feared defence secrets had been compromised.
The US took the affair so seriously, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover hand-delivered a note to US Attorney General Robert Kennedy, JFK’s brother, warning of the risks.
douglas fairbanks jr
john profumo
Revelations: Star Douglas Fairbanks Jr (left) gave the FBI information about Keeler's affair with Minister of War, John Profumo (right)
The papers also reveal how Hollywood star Douglas Fairbanks Jnr knew many of those involved and gave regular reports to Washington about the scandal.
Hoover’s note, dated June 18, 1963, soon after Profumo’s resignation, is headed ‘Soviet Personnel Intelligence Activities Internal Security – Russia’.
It reads: ‘In view of the President’s forthcoming trip to Europe, it is believed you would want to know of the following information from a confidential informant who has furnished reliable information in the past.
‘On June 14, Colonel [blanked] with Soviet mission to the United Nations... a ranking official of the KGB... commented concerning a radio broadcast regarding the Profumo case that [the KGB] had received through [Ivanov] “a lot of information” from Profumo... [blanked] also remarked that [blanked] had established microphones in [blanked] apartment(s).’
The US agent, a ‘defector in place’ working for the KGB in New York, was saying the flat where Profumo and Keeler met was being bugged by the Soviets.
The note adds: ‘In view of the extremely delicate and sensitive source providing this information, it is being furnished only to you with the belief you might want to personally advise the President...’
A secret cablegram, sent from Hoover to the FBI legal attache in London in June 1963, said: ‘This case receiving special attention at White House, State, Defense and [blanked]. President reportedly concerned lest there are hidden ramifications which might affect his forthcoming conference with Macmillan.’
stephen ward
Connected: Stephen Ward, the osteopath who introduced Keeler to Profumo
The document is one of several files released after requests by Stephen Dorril, intelligence expert and joint author of Honey Trap, the account of the Profumo Affair on which the 1989 film Scandal was based.
A heavily redacted version of the file, codenamed ‘Bowtie’, had been previously released, but the new papers give a much clearer picture of the US investigation. They show senior FBI officials in London were so worried they cancelled their leave.
A second top-secret note describes how the information came from a KGB colonel who was well-connected in Moscow.
The informant told the FBI he was involved in a discussion about Profumo at the Soviet’s United Nations office, saying it took place while he and several KGB officers were ‘standing in a corridor smoking’.
The file adds: ‘Informant was asked... whether [the senior KGB Colonel] made these remarks facetiously or in joking manner... the informant said he had not received this impression.’
The role of Fairbanks Jnr, a former US Naval Intelligence officer, is revealed in an airgram sent from the FBI in London to Hoover.
Dated June 19, 1963, and referring to Stephen Ward, the osteopath who introduced Keeler to Profumo, it says: ‘Fairbanks Jnr has advised... he was patient [of] Dr Ward and met [Keeler] on several occasions. Fairbanks knows Ward as a procurer... states... Ward will be charged with abortion and blackmail. Profumo is blackmail victim.
‘Fairbanks [said] Ward running sex den and [Keeler] involved. Characterized Ward as Left-wing fellow traveller. According to Fairbanks, [blanked] has long list of “customers” which involves many members of the House of Lords. Navy suspects Fairbanks may be more involved with [blanked] than he had indicated.’
Ward committed suicide with sleeping tablets on the last day of his trial in August 1963, having been charged with living off profits of prostitution.
The file also discloses an interview with Thomas Corbally, the American businessman who in January 1963 tipped off the American ambassador in London about the Profumo affair.
Corbally said he was introduced to Ivanov, ‘who was personable, a good dresser and a man with a “keen” interest in beautiful girls’, by Ward.
Corbally reported that Ward said Profumo was having an affair with Keeler. Ward told him in 1961 he took ‘many beautiful girls’, including Keeler, to Cliveden, home of Lord Astor, and how ‘on occasions [blanked] and his male guests would pay visits’ to a cottage on the estate rented by Ward ‘to see the girls’.
‘Dr Ward went on to relate that one summer’s night in 1961 he took [Keeler] to the swimming pool... and impulsively they [blanked] and did so in the nude. Ward further related ... they were spied upon by Profumo, who was attending a dinner at the main house, and Profumo started to chase [Keeler] around the pool until the other main house guests appeared, and the girls then hastily wrapped themselves in towels.’
Corbally told how Ward described an ‘elegant’, ‘formal’ dinner party. ‘When the dinner was about to be served a waiter serving the dinner appeared in complete undress except for a black hood, which he wore over his head with slits for the eyes.
‘He stated Dr Ward also indicated the nude waiter had a pink ribbon tied to his private parts and this eventually caused the dinner party to culminate in a perverted sex orgy upon the part of all the guests.
‘He stated Ward refused to identify anyone attending the party other than the fact they were highly placed officials and the nude waiter was a high-ranking Cabinet Minister.’
Another FBI informant, whose name is still secret, reported Ward said of Ivanov and Profumo’s liaisons with Keeler ‘... when one of these men would come in one door, the other would go out the back door’.
According to the informant, Ward said Keeler ‘called Profumo “Jacky”.’
He added Keeler was asked if Ivanov ‘had ever requested that she obtain information for him and she replied that he did.
‘She stated: “He asked me to obtain information as to when the atomic warheads would be sent to West Germany.” ’ Asked if she had obtained any of the information, she replied ‘nothing important really’.
A document featuring another secret informant says Keeler discussed an ‘incident of the near-atomic explosion caused by a rat partially gnawing through a cable’, adding she ‘did not indicate this information came from Profumo but [the informant] assumed it did because Profumo would be the only one in a position to give such information.’