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The Secret Worlds of Stephen Ward: Sex, Scandal and Deadly Secrets in the Profumo Affair Paperback – 19 Dec 2013
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The defining book on the Profumo scandal. Updated and republished to coincide with the opening of the major new Andrew Lloyd Weber musical: Stephen Ward.
About the Author
Anthony Summers is the award-winning author of eight bestselling non-fiction books. As a BBC journalist, he covered events in the United States and wars in Vietnam and the Middle East for Panorama. His most recent book The Eleventh Day, co-authored with Robbyn Swan, was a Finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for History. It also won the Crime Writer's Association's Gold Dagger award for best non-fiction - which the first edition of this book also won. Summers is the only author to have won two Gold Dagger awards for non-fiction.
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When the first edition of this book appeared 25 years ago as Honey trap Honey Trap, coinciding with the film Scandal Scandal [DVD], it showed how the counter-culture had fused itself into the system, as well as how the Establishment had assimilated with anything anti, because Profumo could no longer arouse typical pro and anti debates. Anything favourable, starting with the official Denning Report, was tainted by cover-up, rumour, lies and silence. The Lords voted to block a BBC documentary. Silence. After another quarter century, and Lloyd-Webber's Stephen Ward musical stage production, the book is still valid as it re-presents the old and any new evidence available. Summers & Dorril don't accuse; they propose alternative theories, so allowing readers to decide for themselves the right possible answers, which often might coincide with their own version left at the end.
In traditional Establishment language no one would dispute the authors' conclusion that Profumo was a bounder who lied, let all his friends and colleagues, Henry Brooke, Iain Macleod and Martin Redmayne down, and behaved like a proper cad to his wife, the former actress, Valerie Hobson, preferring to suffer on in silence for the sake of the family, and over time his moment of summer madness was partly wiped clean and forgiven with his appointment of the CBE. Bravo! First impressions, however, can deceive as life back at the Profumos was not so hunky dory, and had the Keeler affair failed to bear fruit in compromising the playful Minister, the authors now have knowledge the Soviets had Plan B in the pipeline to compromise sweet accommodating Val.
As for Premier Harold Macmillan, today it is felt he was much more informed about Profumo's continuing "indiscretions" than it seemed at the time when his Minister lied in Parliament in March 1963, and in later life he may even have tried to deceive researchers when he claimed Profumo could not have known of important atomic secrets to pass on to the Soviets. Despite the so-called "Night of the Long Knives", when seven Cabinet Ministers were sacked in July 1962, with the benefit of hindsight one begins to query how strong Macmillan really was, not to demote or dismiss Profumo earlier, and save what was saveable of his "You have never had it so good" administration.
The volume, written by journalists, presents the historical idea that a single person or one event per se was not historically decisive; rather, it was a multitude of individuals each with their own agendas, grudges interacting across a chain of developing events which created a situation that ultimately determined the final possible decision, which over the passage of time could have differed should the minor and major protagonists have taken alternative decisions.
At one time it was decided by the powers that be - which are not those elected regularly by people, but the intelligence services, MI5 and MI6, behind the scenes, to make an example of the small outsider, the osteopath Dr Stephen Ward, by discrediting him personally as a man, falsely presenting him as a pimp, a pushy second rate artist (he was a credited society artist), a traitor, and with past school friends in the court of misinforming British society with suitable lengthy, entertaining revelations to hide or justify the real truths, and create what Profumo's lawyer, Lord Goodman, described as "an historic injustice". In time the tabloids would have had a field day in satisfying impressionable and double-standard readers with further gossip from those with the nuggets: including the stunning, dumb Christine Keeler, and her cat-like, and her brighter street-wise accomplice, Mandy, helped because the dirty older creature, Ward was dead, a suicide attempt, proving without doubt to all the guilt which the court had previously declared. Secrets die with the dead, even of little people, and the system and the nation can safely sail on into the sunset.
But what if the suicide was something more, such as "assisted", surely one says that is different. Dare we whisper murder? Like two salivating dogs chasing their tasty bone, Summers & Dorril have followed their star in this edition, and without fears of slander can provide a name, and demonstrate the entire affair, which Profumo's preferred to describe as "a giggle in the evening", as an episode about intelligence.
It was lucky, therefore, that the officers involved were so incompetent, and the attempt was botched, so demonstrating first a cover up operation had been ordered to silence Ward for good; for should the virus of Ward had not been quashed, more scandals involving other members of Macmillan's government would have surfaced risking embarrassing more painful debates than those faced by another long dying Conservative administration thirty years hence. And that damaged government got out of the political wilderness after 13 years! Macmillan had already admitted on resignation that he felt he was being hounded both by foreign foes and by devious, selfish, unpatriotic Tory colleagues within his Party; which confirms his silence about Profumo was perhaps less due to innocence and not being misinformed but was a planned damage limitation strategy. Fact or speculation?
Was Ward a simpleton, a voyeur, a traitor, a double-agent? Who is really to be sure as he often liked to show off and lie. Neither Keeler nor Rice-Davies thought so, though Christine behaved as a persistent liar, repeatedly fibbing in court. So is she a reliable witness to use? The authors believe only by a thorough investigation of events can they decide, and conclude stating that sometimes Keeler was, while in others she was not.
Finally, in 1963, Lord Denning's Report limited his findings to domestic issues, whereas if he was completely honest he should have widened his goals. Ah, but that would have let Ward go free and that was not wanted. When Honeytrap was published any mention of overseas interests in the 1980s, though controversial, was considered normal during the Cold War and justified to ensure peace, because the big bad Russian Bear was obviously pursuing equally illegal operations.
In the US Summers & Dorril state Profumo provoked much interest not only because Keeler and Rice-Davies were known, but also two others: n°3 Stella Cape, a.k.a Mariella Novotny, and n°4 Suzy Chang, and they all were involved at some time with one J.F. Kennedy, the President, something which was thought highly sensitive. Thus, should ever any paper publish stories of the President's involvement with these girls, the FBI was called in to investigate and soon the paper was silenced with threats of anti-trust suits instigated by Kennedy's highly strung younger brother Bobby, the US Attorney General. Due to the popularity of the Kennedys, should any rumour spread of possible heavy handedness emanating from the White House it would be disregarded, deemed suspect being advanced by anti-Americans or Communist fellow travellers. But following the Watergate break in, and Nixon's dirty tricks against Vietnam vets in the 1970s, illegal operations by G.W. Bush, as well as information given by whistleblowers recently on the people's private e-mails and internet use such an idealistic vision of the Presidency in the US is viewed infantile. So any revelations of earlier Presidential interest would no longer be considered something implausible.
What is more, US intelligence was aware that Ward and Ivanov were operating in Britain as self-appointed negotiators during the Cuban Missile crisis in October 1962. Since J.F. Kennedy was known to the girls associated with Ward, who in turn was known to be acting as a messenger/ go-between the Soviets it would not be impossible to feel that this President was duly compromised, information which the FBI Director, J Edgar Hoover, no fan of the Kennedys, would be happy to use against them in future should the opportunity arise.
British intelligence was poorly thought of first after the defection of Burgess and Maclean in 1955, and later by Philby in July 1963, and the US was starting not to pass on secrets with its unreliable special partner. Did it suspect that the British intelligence services were acting independently from their political bosses as was happening in the US. Both Kennedy and his agents realised that Macmillan's days were numbered, but were his services already in the know and imagine that which occurred to a later Labour administration which felt that its own intelligence services were operating against itSmear!: Wilson and the Secret State.
Is there any link between Kennedy's assassination in Dallas in autumn 1963, the Cuban missile crisis and Profumo? Not in this volume Not In Your Lifetime: The Assassination of JFK. Was it Khrushchev angry final response to Ivanov's failed honey trap, or were Hoover's operatives involved? Another cover up, in any case.
And the future? Why won't the Profumo papers come into the public domain until 2064? For fear of damaging members of the Royal Family - King William V, aged 80, born 19 years after the scandal, or Prince Philip (dead) and Princess Margaret (longer dead)? The monarchy is no longer depicted as at the coronation in 1952, nor as during the annus horribilis in 1992; similarly it was not as during Victoria's reign when the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VII) was rumoured to be connected with the murdered girls of Jack the Ripper, nor as in 1936 at the abdication of Edward VIII over Mrs Simpson - a person Mandy Rice-Davies went to lunch with many years later. Evidence or coincidences? The monarchy moved on, evolved and survived. There must be something still unimagined - so, to the Anthony Summers & Stephen Dorril's next instalment in 25 years time when we finally may learn the truth of why knickers ended a political career and perhaps two administrations.
This book looks in detail at Stephen Ward's early career and unhappy love affairs. If not successful in his private life, Ward was certainly a success as an osteopath - taking risks and pushing himself forward, in order to establish himself in a private practice with clients such as Winston Churchill, Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra. He was a man who wanted to impress and be accepted by society, in a London where class and connections still mattered. There were wild parties and exclusive dinner parties, with Prince Philip among others. Ward was a man eager to please; to help patients by taking them to parties and arranging introductions to beautiful young girls. He was mixing with the elite, staying in a house in the grounds of Cliveden, family home of the Astors, and yet incongruously picking up girls on the street. Despite his dubious behaviours, it is a fact that none of the women approached by Ward have anything unkind to say about him - he never attempted to corrupt girls, but approached women he already knew to be involved in the more seedy side of life and he was always courteous and kind. It simply seemed to amuse him to bring the two sides together and, undoubtedly, being a provider of beautiful women made him a desirable guest at the parties and places he was keen to gain access to. In fact, if anything, it is John Profumo - a man who took Christine Keeler to his own family home and marital bed and who even brought her the same perfume as his wife to cover up his adulterous behaviour - who comes out of the book in a worse light. Certainly not the behaviour of a gentleman, regardless of his class and status.
In this interesting read, you are taken through events; who knew what and to what extent Stephen Ward was involved with MI5. It was a fact that both MI5 and the Special Branch had been running surveillance on both Ward and Ivanov. Did Ward have communist sympathies? Did he disclose what he knew to MI5 and, if so, did it help or hurt him personally? Was J F Kennedy linked to what happened, at the sensitive time of the start of the Cuban Missile Crisis? Of course, you will read this book and make up your own mind - and it may well differ from the conclusions of the authors. Either way, this is an extremely well written account of those times and, although it does take a point of view and not remain unbiased, the authors always try to back up their statements with evidence. Whatever you decide at the end of this book, it is certain that you will enjoy reading this very interesting account of a scandal which still fascinates today.
but I would like to give a few of the girls lie detect tests
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