John Lewis

Samuel Herbert

John Lewis was born on 14th December 1912. He became extremely wealthy from inventions connected with the industrial use of rubber. Lewis was a member of the Labour Party and was elected to the House of Commons for the constituency of Bolton West at the 1945 General Election. While an MP he upset Harold Wilson, the President of the Board of Trade. Wilson believed that Lewis was guilty of trying to influence Board officials.

Prime Minister Clement Attlee also considered him to be "an embarrassment to the party" and journalist Roger Whipp recalls Lewis as a "nasty piece of work". Conservative Party MP, William Shepherd claimed that "John Lewis was one of the lowest forms of human existence I've ever met. He was loathsome in every sense. I think no one loathed him more than the Labour Party." In July 1951 he got into more trouble when driving to parliament he collided with a police car.

On 25th October he lost his seat in the 1951 General Election to the Liberal Party candidate Arthur Holt. According to an internal Labour Party document, it was decided not to endorse him as the candidate for the next election because of "rumours that John Lewis is not a fit and proper person to represent the Party in Parliament, because of some lack of personal or business honesty or integrity on his part."

Lewis was also having marriage difficulties. According to Anthony Summers and Stephen Dorril, the authors of Honeytrap (1987): "Three years after the war, Lewis married a beautiful model called Joy Fletcher. It was a disaster, not least because of Lewis' philandering and his alleged interest in bizarre sex." Philip Knightley argued in An Affair of State (1987): "His wife confided to women friends that Lewis's sex education seemed to have come from prostitutes and that he expected her to perform services like washing his genitals after intercourse. Their sexual relationship declined to the point where Joy Lewis had consulted the family doctor, David Minton, about her repugnance for her husband."

Joy Lewis became friendly with Stephen Ward and he introduced her to Frederic Mullally. It was claimed that Mullally had once said that his greatest ambition was to sleep with all the beautiful women in London. Mullally began an affair with Joy Lewis. Mullally later commented: "She (Joy) and Lewis had lots of fights, rows and walkouts. And on one occasion she went out in great distress, and didn't know what to do, and called Stephen Ward. And he put her up for the night at his place. It was a totally friendly gesture on his part." However, when Lewis heard about what happened, he became convinced that Ward was also having an affair with his wife.

Lewis also became angry with Ward over another relationship his wife had. Ward's friend, Warwick Charlton, has argued: "He (Lewis) went potty when he found Stephen had fixed her up with a Swedish beauty queen, a lesbian, with whom she had an affair. This he thought, was an assault on his manhood... He had a heart attack over it." Charlton was with Lewis when he heard the news of the affair. Lewis told Charlton "I will get Ward whatever happens". Lewis took out a revolver and said "I'll shoot myself, but not before I get Ward." Charlton claimed that "from then on, the most important thing in John's life was his burning hatred for Ward, which went on year after year."

The journalist, Logan Gourlay, remembers that in 1953 Lewis attempted to get his newspaper, The Daily Express, to publish an article discrediting Ward. Frederic Mullally explained: "Lewis got hold of an Express reporter, a young untrained boy, and gave him what purported to be an exclusive story that Stephen Ward and I were running a call-girl business in Mayfair." The editor, Arthur Christiansen, who was friendly with both Ward and Mullally, and refused to publish the story. Lewis now began to telephone the Marylebone Police Station anonymously, saying that Dr Ward was procuring girls for his wealthy patients. The police treated the calls as coming from a crank and ignored them.

MI6, who provided prostitutes for foreign visitors, became aware of the activities of Stephan Ward. One officer admitted: "We learned that Ward wasn't that interested in participating in sex. He liked to watch girls being screwed, especially adult women dressed up as underage girls. Ward would obtain girls, and a boost for us came when he met Lord Astor - and capitalised on Astor's perversion... For us, here was a thriving little London setup with all sorts of big names and diplomats and others swimming in and out... MI6 has tentacles everywhere, and someone spotted Ward and felt the setup might become useful, that some interesting people might walk into it. We could get to know them, do little deals, so that they'd be friends of ours."

According to the authors of Honeytrap (1987), MI6 became aware of the attempts by Lewis to bring an end to Ward's activities. An MI6 officer recalled: "The problem was how do we negate Lewis, and stop him spoiling this promising setup? My case officer assigned me to get in with Lewis, and I did, by pretending I wanted an interview for the paper or something. Soon I was going nightclubbing with him - we went to a place called Eve's quite a lot. He was quite open about his hatred for Ward. And I got in with him to the extent that I was helping him to plan his anti-Ward campaign, but in such a way as to make sure it didn't come off.... Ward was never actually recruited, so far as I knew, just observed and kept on ice as an available asset."

Ronna Ricardo at the way to the Old Bailey
Joy Lewis and Suzanne Mullally in 1953.

In 1954 Lewis decided to divorce his wife. Lewis told Warwick Charlton that he was going to use the case to ruin Stephen Ward: "He's a bastard. Not only did he introduce Joy to Freddy Mullally but to some Swedish beauty queen as well. I'm going to cite seven men and one woman in my divorce case." The judge in the case noted it had "been fought with a consistent and virulent bitterness which could rarely have been excelled". The judge also questioned some of the evidence he heard. It was later claimed that "Lewis asked several witnesses to perjure themselves, and bribed some to do so."

Lewis now returned to his business activities and established a company called Rubber Improvements. In 1955 his company won a very lucrative contract from the National Coal Board to supply conveyor belting to bring coal from mines. According to Philip Knightley: "Once Lewis was certain from his negotiations with the Coal Board that the deal would eventually come off, he told all his friends to buy shares at the depressed price. When the contract, the biggest the Coal Board had ever awarded, was announced, the price of shares in the company, Rubber Improvements, soared fifteen fold. Friends who had bought them made a lot of money from this inside information."

On 24th December 1962, John Lewis met Christine Keeler at a Christmas Party. She told him about the problems she was having with two of her former lovers, Lucky Gordon and John Edgecombe. "On the surface, the man I met at Jenny's party on Christmas Eve 1962, could not have been more helpful. I didn't know he was using me as a conduit to get to Stephen Ward. He bragged about getting hundreds of thousands of pounds in legal actions against newspapers. My legal troubles involving Johnnie and Lucky were nothing. I was so grateful when he said he would get his lawyers to help and even more pleased that he actually rang, as promised, the next day." Keeler later admitted that he was "one of the most evil men of the whole affair, the vindictive John Lewis... Stephen had played a part in his bitter divorce from his wife, Joy, and Lewis was, even years later, after him."

Lewis found out from Keeler that she had been having a sexual relationship with John Profumo, the Minister of War and Eugene Ivanov, an naval attaché at the Soviet embassy. She also told him that she had been living with Stephen Ward and that he had introduced her to several famous people such as Profumo and Ivanov. Lewis realized that this provided him with a very good opportunity of gaining revenge on Ward as well as getting back into the House of Commons.

Lewis decided he would pass this information to George Wigg, the MP for Dudley. The first meeting took place on 2nd January 1963. Wigg was interested in the story but asked Lewis to provide him with more information. Lewis now told Keeler he was willing to pay her £30,000 if her information brought the government down. Keeler responded by telling him that "Stephen (Ward) asked me to ask Jack Profumo what date the Germans were to get the bomb." Wigg's secretary remembers, "Mr Lewis constantly rang up during the day when Mr Wigg was about his parliamentary business. I frequently got the impression he wasn't completely sober. But he was insistent." On 7th January, Lewis told Wigg the story about Ward asking her to discover classified information from Profumo.

Wigg explained in his autobiography: "Lewis had attended a pre-Christmas party where a Miss Christine Keeler talked excitedly about a recent shooting incident, the first of several events destined to endow her with what she appeared to crave the reputation of being the most notorious woman in London. Miss Keeler, who said she had heard a Mr Stephen Ward refer to Lewis, asked if she could telephone him and, a few days later, sought his help. She then spoke about her friendship with John Profumo, Secretary of State for War, and with the Russian Naval Attaché, Captain Eugene Ivanov. Miss Keeler alleged that Ward had asked her to obtain from Profumo information about the supply of atomic weapons to the Germans... I rejected at once the idea that Profumo personally was a security risk. I had found him politically untrustworthy but I never regarded him as a fool, and I could not be persuaded that an obviously ignorant girl would be used as a go-between. It seemed to me the man to keep an eye on was Ivanov. Lewis agreed that the matter must be handled exclusively on the issue of security. I urged him to talk to the police and, at a later stage, advised him to talk to Commander Townsend at Scotland Yard. Lewis did talk to the police but, being dissatisfied with the results, returned to me again and again."

Warwick Charlton later explained. "John Lewis was an able politician. He had held pretty high office, but because of the way he was living he had lost his seat. He was desperate to get back in. He had two motives delivered to him by Christine: one, the Russian security thing, and, two, evidence that Stephen was a ponce. He'd have his revenge, and he had little presents to give Wigg to beat the Tory Party with, and he might get back and re-establish his reputation with Labour."

On 10th March, 1963, Wigg attended a party with Harold Wilson, the leader of the Labour Party, Richard Crossman and Barbara Castle. Crossman later recalled: "When we arrived at the party George outlined the story to us and we emphatically and unanimously repudiated it. We all felt that even if it was true and Profumo was having an affair with a call girl and that some Russian diplomat had been mixed up in it, the Labour Party simply should not touch it. I remember that we all advised Harold very strongly against it and in a way rather squashed George."

George Wigg got up in the House of Commons on 21st March and asked Home Secretary Henry Brooke, during a debate on the John Vassall affair: "I rightly use the Privilege of the House of Commons - that is what it is given me for - to ask the Home Secretary who is the senior member of the Government on the Treasury Bench now, to go to the Dispatch Box - he knows that the rumour to which I refer relates to Miss Christine Keeler and Miss Davies and a shooting by a West Indian - and, on behalf of the Government, categorically deny the truth of these rumours.... It is not good for a democratic State that rumours of this kind should spread and be inflated, and go on. Everyone knows what I am referring to, but up to now nobody has brought the matter into the open. I believe that the Vassall Tribunal need never have been set up had the nettle been firmly grasped much earlier on. We have lost some time and I plead with the Home Secretary to use that Dispatch Box to clear up all the mystery and speculation over this particular case." Richard Crossman then commented that Paris Match magazine intended to publish a full account of Keeler's relationship with John Profumo, the Minister of War, in the government. Barbara Castle also asked questions if Keeler's disappearance had anything to do with Profumo.

The following day John Profumo issued a statement: "I understand that in the debate on the Consolidated Fund Bill last night, under the protection of parliamentary privilege, the Hon. Gentlemen the Members for Dudley (George Wigg) ... spoke of rumours connecting a Minister with a Miss Keeler and a recent trial at the Central Criminal Court. It was alleged that people in high places might have been responsible for concealing information concerning the disappearance of a witness and the perversion of justice. I understand that my name has been connected with the rumours about the disappearance of Miss Keeler. I would like to take this opportunity of making a personal statement about these matters. I last saw Miss Keeler in December 1961, and I have not seen her since. I have no idea where she is now. Any suggestion that I was in any way connected with or responsible for her absence from the trial at the Old Bailey is wholly and completely untrue. My wife and I first met Miss Keeler at a house party in July 1961, at Cliveden. Among a number of people there was Doctor Stephen Ward whom we already knew slightly, and a Mr Ivanov, who was an attaché at the Russian Embassy.... Between July and December, 1961, I met Miss Keeler on about half a dozen occasions at Doctor Ward's flat, when I called to see him and his friends. Miss Keeler and, I were on friendly terms. There was no impropriety whatsoever in my acquaintanceship with Miss Keeler."

On 27th March, 1963, Henry Brooke summoned Roger Hollis, the head of MI5, and Joseph Simpson, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, to a meeting in his office. Philip Knightley pointed out in An Affair of State (1987): "All these people are now dead and the only account of what took place is a semi-official one leaked in 1982 by MI5. According to this account, when Brooke tackled Hollis on the rumour that MI5 had been sending anonymous letters to Mrs Profumo, Hollis vigorously denied it." Hollis then told Brooke that Christine Keeler had been having a sexual relationship with John Profumo. At the same time Keeler was believed to be having an affair with Eugene Ivanov, a Soviet spy.

According to Keeler, Stephen Ward had asked her "to find out, through pillow talk, from Jack Profumo when nuclear warheads were being moved to Germany." Hollis added that "in any court case that might be brought against Ward over the accusation all the witnesses would be completely unreliable" and therefore he rejected the idea of using the Official Secrets Act against Ward. Brooke then asked the Police Commissioner's view on this. Simpson agreed with Hollis about the unreliable witnesses but added that it might be possible to get a conviction against Ward with a charge of living off immoral earnings. However, he added, that given the evidence available, a conviction was unlikely. Despite this response, Brooke urged Simpson to carry out a full investigation into Ward's activities.

On 25th May, 1963, George Wigg once again raised the issue of Keeler, saying this was not an attack on Profumo's private life but a matter of national security. On 5th June, John Profumo resigned as War Minister. His statement said that he had lied to the House of Commons about his relationship with Christine Keeler. The next day the Daily Mirror said: "What the hell is going on in this country? All power corrupts and the Tories have been in power for nearly twelve years."

Some newspapers called for Harold Macmillan to resign as prime minister. This he refused to do but he did ask Lord Denning to investigate the security aspects of the Profumo affair. Some of the prostitutes who worked for Stephen Ward began to sell their stories to the national press. Mandy Rice-Davies told the Daily Sketch that Christine Keeler had sexual relationships with John Profumo and Eugene Ivanov, an naval attaché at the Soviet embassy.

On 7th June, Christine Keeler told the Daily Express of her secret "dates" with Profumo. She also admitted that she had been seeing Eugene Ivanov at the same time, sometimes on the same day, as Profumo. In a television interview Ward told Desmond Wilcox that he had warned the security services about Keeler's relationship with Profumo. The following day Ward was arrested and charged with living off immoral earnings between 1961 and 1963. He was initially refused bail because it was feared that he might try to influence witnesses. Another concern was that he might provide information on the case to the media.

The trial of Stephen Ward began at the Old Bailey on 22nd July 1963. Christine Keeler admitted in court that she had sex with John Profumo, Charles Clore and Jim Eynan. In all three cases the men gave her money and gifts. During cross-examination she confessed that some of this money was paid to Ward as she owed him money for rent, electricity and food while she was living at his flat.

Mandy Rice-Davies also admitted receiving money and gifts from Peter Rachman and Emil Savundra. As she was living with Ward at the time she gave him some of this money for unpaid rent. As Rice-Davies pointed out: "Much was made of the fact that I was paying him a few pounds a week whilst I was living in Wimpole Mews. But I said before and say it again - Stephen never did anything for nothing and we agreed on the rent the day I arrived. He most certainly never influenced me to sleep with anyone, nor ever asked me to do so." She added: "Stephen was never a blue-and-white diamond, but a pimp? Ridiculous.... As for Christine, she was always borrowing money (from Stephen Ward)."

Ward told his defence counsel, James Burge: "One of my great perils is that at least half a dozen of the (witnesses) are lying and their motives vary from malice to cupidity and fear... In the case of both Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies there is absolutely no doubt that they are committed to stories which are already sold or could be sold to newspapers and that my conviction would free these newspapers to print stories which they would otherwise be quite unable to print (for libel reasons)."

Stephen Ward was very upset by the judge's summing-up that included the following: "If Stephen Ward was telling the truth in the witness box, there are in this city many witnesses of high estate and low who could have come and testified in support of his evidence." Several people present in the court claimed that Judge Archie Pellow Marshall was clearly biased against Ward. France Soir reported: "However impartial he tried to appear, Judge Marshall was betrayed by his voice."

After the day's court proceedings, Ward contacted Tom Critchley, a Home Office official working with Lord Denning on the official investigation. Later, Critchley refused to comment what was said in that telephone conversation. That night Ward met the journalist Tom Mangold: "Stephen was very relaxed... He wasn't walking around in a froth. He was very calm and collected, just writing his letters and putting them in envelopes. I wanted to pretend that I hadn't seen what I'd seen. My excuse, which was not a good excuse, was that I was on a yellow card from my wife. I reckoned I could risk being home two hours late. But I knew the marriage wouldn't survive if I showed up any later. So all I did was to bleat at Stephen not to do anything foolish."

After Mangold left Ward wrote to his friend, Noel Howard-Jones: "It is really more than I can stand - the horror, day after day at the court and in the streets. It is not only fear, it is a wish not to let them get me. I would rather get myself. I do hope I have not let people down too much. I tried to do my stuff but after Marshall's summing-up, I've given up all hope." Ward then took an overdose of sleeping tablets. He was in a coma when the jury reached their verdict of guilty of the charge of living on the immoral earnings of Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies on Wednesday 31st July. Three days later, Ward died in St Stephen's Hospital. According to Warwick Charlton, John Lewis was delighted at the news of his death: "He was celebrating. He made no bones about it."

Superintendent Samuel Herbert, who led the investigation against Stephen Ward, died of a heart attack on 16th April 1966. In his will he left only £300, which was commensurate with the police salaries at that time. However, after his death his bank account was discovered to contain no less than £30,000 (£660,000 by today's values). According to Philip Knightley: "By coincidence, in the tape recordings which Christine Keeler made with her manager, Robin Drury, Keeler says that John Lewis, Ward's bitter enemy, had offered her £30,000 for information leading to Ward's conviction and the bringing down of the Conservative Government."

John Lewis died of a heart-attack on 14th June 1969. He left £63,000 in his will.

Primary Sources

(1) Philip Knightley, An Affair of State (1987)

Mullally discussed Lewis with Ward. "What had happened was that Joy Lewis had had a terrible fight with John and had walked out into the night with nowhere to go. Knowing Stephen and knowing how hospitable he was to people in trouble she went to Stephen's flat and, in great distress, asked him to put her up for the night. I'm positive nothing happened between them - Stephen was too conscious of his image as a gentleman to have tried to take advantage of her predicament - and the next day joy went back to Lewis. Lewis was a tremendous bully with women and he put her down in a chair and third-degreed her. She told him she had stayed at Stephen's and from that moment on Lewis developed an obsession about Stephen and decided to get him any way he could."

Mullally was part of Lewis's obsession too, perhaps with some justification - the divorce court judge found that he had had an affair with joy Lewis - and Lewis moved quickly to avenge himself. Lewis could be ruthless - he once ordered a racehorse he owned to be put down after it finished last in an important race - and his tactics to punish Ward and Mullally barred no holds. He began to gather evidence for his divorce case and let it be known that he planned to name both Ward and Mullally as co-respondents in the action.

As a warm-up to the main bout, Lewis brought libel and slander actions against Mullally, claiming that Mullally had accused him in public of having paid £200 to a one-time employee of Mullally's to give false information in the divorce action. Lewis won. The court awarded him £700 damages and ordered Mullally to pay the costs, estimated at £1,000. Lewis won again in the divorce action, despite some curious sidelights to the case. (In one of these, another former employee of Mullally's gave a statement against him, then later retracted this evidence under oath and flew off to Canada. Lewis followed him there and persuaded him to revert to his original evidence. In another, a witness who gave evidence for Lewis had cosmetic surgery on her nose after the trial, the surgeon's bill being paid by Lewis.) Lewis was given custody of his daughter and Mullally was ordered to pay his own costs and one third of those of both John Lewis and his wife. These were estimated at £7,000 (£70,000 at today's values) and the total payout crushed Mullally financially.

But Lewis was having less success in his efforts to ruin Ward. Ward had been dropped from Lewis's divorce action in a legal quid pro quo deal. Ward had issued slander writs against Lewis because Lewis had been telling anyone who would listen that Ward had procured Joy for Freddy Mullally. Solicitors for both parties reached a compromise - Lewis would not name Ward in his divorce action if Ward would drop his slander action against Lewis.

So Lewis turned to other methods to avenge himself on Ward. He wrote to the taxman. The Inland Revenue suddenly swooped on Ward and began a long and detailed investigation into his financial and business affairs. The investigators told Ward that they were acting on "information received". The investigation showed that Ward's bookkeeping was chaotic and he received such a large bill for back taxes that it was to take him several years to pay it off. But the incident which was to have the most serious repercussions on Ward's life - and one that can positively be traced to Lewis - concerned sex.

(2) Anthony Summers, Honeytrap (1987)

Who made the anonymous call to Labour MP George Wigg in November 1962, telling him: "Forget about the Vassall case. You want to look at Profumo?" According to Chapman Pincher, the writer on intelligence affairs, MI5 files contain evidence that the caller was a Soviet agent fronting as a contributor to the Evening News, Victor Louis....

It is conceivable that the Soviets arranged a call to Wigg, to provoke an embarrassing investigation and to damage the Conservative Government. Surely, though, they would have given him some titbit of information to go on, not just one meaningless sentence with no follow-up message? No responsible source has ever laid the Profumo Affair at Moscow's door.

John Lewis, though, is another matter. Did he learn something about the case as early as November, when the call was made? Given what we now know of Lewis' scheming, of his political ambitions, his purple passion against Stephen Ward, and his track record of deviousness, he must be considered a candidate for the role of anonymous caller to his former Labour colleague. Certainly, in the weeks to come, it was Lewis who was to give Wigg the ammunition for his formidable attack on the Government over the Profumo case.

Wigg and Lewis were not close friends, but they shared a keen interest in horse-racing. Wigg had long been involved in the supervision of racecourse betting, and Lewis was a race-horse owner. As Wigg's secretary recalls, the two men often engaged in horse talk together, and that gave Lewis an opening to start pouring out his venom about Profumo, Ivanov and Stephen Ward. He went to Wigg for the first time on 2 January 1963, and outlined what Keeler had told him. Wigg, mindful of his anonymous telephone caller, was interested. He was cautious, though, and asked for more information. Lewis asked Keeler to come and see him at his home in St John's Wood.

According to Keeler, she had originally turned to Lewis for advice. She says that - from this man - advice did not come free. He wanted sex, and when she argued, he pulled a gun. In spite of this melodrama, Lewis managed to get more information out of Keeler. She talked about Ward's connection with a man from M15 - and about Ward's request that she ask Profumo when nuclear warheads were to be delivered to West Germany. Lewis tape-recorded it all, without telling Keeler. Then he called Wigg again.

(3) Christine Keeler, The Truth at Last (2001)

I did go out to a Christmas party given by my long-time friend Jenny Harvey who had been my saviour in the past. It was a sort of Murray's Club reunion with people like me who had worked there and favoured customers. It was a mistake for there I met one of the most evil men of the whole affair, the vindictive John Lewis. Later, I was told, someone chewed off his nose as a reprisal for "putting your nose in my affairs"; that was before he died in 1969 and I was not surprised. He had been a Labour MP in the 1950s but a rogue in business. Stephen had played a part in his bitter divorce from his wife, Joy, and Lewis was, even years later, after him. He believed revenge was best cold.

On the surface, the man I met at Jenny's party on Christmas Eve 1962, could not have been more helpful. I didn't know he was using me as a conduit to get to Stephen. He bragged about getting hundreds of thousands of pounds in legal actions against newspapers. My legal troubles involving Johnnie and Lucky were nothing. I was so grateful when he said he would get his lawyers to help and even more pleased that he actually rang, as promised, the next day. He invited me to his house and bamboozled me with his confidence and connections: Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner had stayed in his flat. He pointed out the fat dossiers he kept on people. He was the same as Stephen but more deadly: he became more familiar with me and made a pass. Our meetings got fraught as I insisted my relations with Jack and Eugene Ivanov had nothing to do with the case against Johnnie Edgecombe.

He, like Eddowes, threatened me with gaol and he was more intimidating than Eddowes. Nastier. Eddowes had taken an interest, been understanding. I told him about Stephen asking me to get details about the bomb. I told him about Jack. He told George Wigg, the powerful Labour MP with the ear of Harold Wilson. Wigg, who was Jack's opposite number in the Commons, started a Lewis-style dossier; it was the official start of the investigations and questions which would pull away the foundations of the Macmillan government.

I thought John Lewis was helping me but he was trying to destroy Stephen. Strangely, if he had known the truth, that would have been to my advantage - he would have been more willing to protect me.

(4) Anthony Summers, Honeytrap (1987)

On 29 March, Eddowes, the solicitor in whom Keeler had confided after the Edgecombe shooting, called Scotland Yard to say he had important information. Then, at his Knightsbridge home, he gave a Special Branch officer an aide-memoire alleging that Ivanov - not Ward, as all other accounts have it - had personally asked Keeler to pump Profumo for information about the delivery of nuclear warheads to Germany. "This is a hot potato," said the Special Branch man, according to Eddowes. "It will be on the Prime Minister's desk in the morning."

Five days later Eddowes called Special Branch to enquire about progress. "It is out of my hands now," replied the officer, whom Eddowes names as Dickinson. "Why don't you drop it?" A few days later, when Eddowes' assistant met Dickinson by chance at King's Cross Station, the officer repeated his feeling that Eddowes should drop the matter. Special Branch, which takes its lead from M15 on security matters, was following the line taken by M15 head Sir Roger Hollis - deny, drop all contacts, run for cover.

On the day of Eddowes' meeting with Special Branch, 29 March, Hollis was called in by Home Secretary Henry Brooke. MI5, of course, knew Profumo had lied to Parliament - as we have shown, its agents had known about the Keeler affair at the time. Hollis, however, did not share his knowledge with the Home Secretary. To do so would have revealed MI5's use of Ward in the Ivanov Honeytrap scheme. Instead, the head of M15 threw Ward to the wolves. He told Brooke Ward had asked Keeler to get information from Profumo on nuclear warheads. Was there, the Home Secretary wanted to know, a case for prosecuting Ward under the Official Secrets Act? As well he might - since Ward had been the tool of MI5-Hollis told Brooke the evidence was shaky. But he had planted a deadly seed. In the mind of authority was born the idea that the buck should be passed, not to the foolish Minister, Profumo, but to the foolish "provider of popsies", Stephen Ward.

Brooke - Marlborough and Balliol - now turned the guns of the Establishment on Ward, the man from a minor public school and an obscure American college of osteopathy. Was there, he asked the police commissioner, Sir Joseph Simpson, a police interest in Ward? Simpson said there might well be some basis for prosecuting Ward in connection with his girls, but the evidence would be hard to get. It would indeed, for Ward was no criminal. Yet there now began an almost manic police investigation of the man. Suitably enough, it began on April Fool's Day.

The police pump had already been primed. Two days before the Brooke meeting on 25 March, the Criminal Investigation Department began receiving anonymous mail. It alleged that "Ward was living on the immoral earnings of girls". Significantly, the public was never allowed to see the letters. There is only one serious candidate for the poison-pen writer - John Lewis. It was he who, years earlier, had sent anonymous information to the Inland Revenue regarding Ward's tax affairs.

(5) Philip Knightley, An Affair of State (1987)

On the political front the mud was being stirred by George Wigg, Profumo's one-time friend, now an enemy. He was being primed by John Lewis, one-time friend of Ward and now his enemy. The two made a powerful combination. They had started working together on 2 January, when Lewis called on Wigg and told him all he had managed to squeeze out of Christine Keeler. Wigg was intrigued but had reservations. He did not see how he could make it a political issue.

But five days later Lewis came back to him with a new item he had learnt from Christine, suitably twisted to serve Lewis's ends. Ward had asked Christine to find out from Profumo when Germany would get nuclear warheads from the United States. Wigg saw the opportunity this offered him. What had been a private affair could be turned into a matter of public interest because national security was involved. Wigg opened a file on Profumo, Christine Keeler, Ward and Ivanov. He asked Lewis to find out all he could and to report to him regularly. In the meantime he raised the matter with some of his parliamentary colleagues to enlist their support.

To his chagrin, they wanted nothing to do with it. One of them was Richard Crossman. He said later that Wigg had told him of his plans on the way to a party which Barbara Castle had arranged for Harold Wilson. "When we arrived at the party George outlined the story to us and we emphatically and unanimously repudiated it. We all felt that even if it was true and Profumo was having an affair with a call girl and that some Russian diplomat had been mixed up in it, the Labour Party simply should not touch it. I remember that we all advised Harold very strongly against it and in a way rather squashed George."

"Why were we so sensitive about the whole thing? The Vassall affair was still hanging over us, when we'd had the experience of the effect on the Labour front bench of George Brown's trying to exploit the charge that Thomas Galbraith had had homosexual relations with George Vassall. We had seen how unfortunate this was. As we left the party at the end of the evening, George deliberately stayed behind to brief Harold even more fully on what he kept repeating was the security aspect of the affair."

Despite the fact that his colleagues had squashed Wigg he was determined not to give up, "not to allow the honour of the army to go undefended". When he was alone with Wilson he suggested that one way of making the matter public would be to use the forthcoming debate on the army to question Profumo in the Commons. Wilson was as keen as any of his colleagues to bring down Macmillan's Government but he was not certain that this was the best way to do it. In the end he opted for a political compromise - he advised Wigg against questioning Profumo but said that this was advice only, and that Wigg should feel free to act as he thought best.

Wigg was in a quandary. If he confronted Profumo and Profumo outsmarted him again, then Wigg's own position would be endangered. His colleagues would say that they had warned him. His leader could abandon him because he had made it clear he did not want to be too closely associated with whatever steps Wigg took. Wigg pondered for 24 hours and then consulted his friend, the lawyer Arnold Goodman. He, too, advised against direct confrontation. After long discussion with Goodman and a review of his file on the matter, Wigg decided that what he needed was an incident to bring the rumours to public attention. He could then step in and use Parliamentary privilege to name all the parties concerned, including Profumo. Wigg curbed his impatience and settled down to wait.