Keeler returns to where Profumo scandal began

THE FACE is lined; her hair is in a prim bun; she wears a cheap acrylic jumper and an old pair of jeans and she looks bedraggled. She is a middle-aged woman consumed with sadness and anger.

THE FACE is lined; her hair is in a prim bun; she wears a cheap acrylic jumper and an old pair of jeans and she looks bedraggled. She is a middle-aged woman consumed with sadness and anger.

Christine Keeler has returned to Cliveden where she frolicked in 1961 as a 19-year-old with John Profumo, War Minister at the time, in a scandal that fatally damaged the Macmillan government.

The liaison between the cabinet minister and a prostitute who was also seeing a Russian official ended the late Mr Profumo's career and eventually brought down the Conservative administration. It also resulted in the suicide of a Harley Street doctor, Stephen Ward, who introduced the couple, and saw the imprisonment of Ms Keeler. She is 57 now. When she first went to Cliveden it was the family home of the Astors. Now it is a luxury hotel.

She made her return visit for a BBC2 series starting on Saturday called The River . Narrated by the cultural historian Patrick Wright, it looks at the history of the Thames and the places it passes through.

In 1961, Ms Keeler stayed in a cottage in the grounds of Cliveden and met Mr Profumo when she stripped naked by the swimming pool. Walking round the grounds with Mr Wright, Ms Keeler said: "It feels sad. I'm pleased to see it again. But it's sad really, sad that things ended the way they did ... The person they still keep writing about isn't me."

Referring to her nine months in prison for obstructing the course of justice, she added: "Freedom never came, never, never, never, never. I am called a prostitute and I wasn't a prostitute and I don't know anyone in the world who could live with that. It's just not my character. The name Christine Keeler has become a sullied dishcloth. I hope that by coming here I can clear my name."

She added: "I do think that I did things that might have endangered national security. But I was set up. I went to prison. I suffered dearly for the wrong I had done. I must admit I wasn't interested in Jack Profumo, but Stephen had other plans. He could do anything with me. I trusted him. I was scared. I was just a kid. Betrayal was Stephen's life."

Revisiting the pool, Ms Keeler recalled: "Stephen dared me to take off my swim-suit and I did. Then all of a sudden Bill Astor and Jack Profumo came out and Jack started chasing me and Bill put the floodlights on."

Mr Wright puts the episode in the context of cultural history. He said: "This was where the English came to transgress and indulge repressed urges."

This is a story one would have thought Ms Keeler would like to forget. But then she does have a book coming out shortly.

Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Digital Printing Trainee / Computer Graphics

£8000 - £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have an interest in compu...

Recruitment Genius: Content / Copy Writer

£18000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has bec...

Reach Volunteering: Trustee with experience in science communication

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: The Society for Expe...

Reach Volunteering: Trustee – PR& Marketing, Social Care, Commercial skills

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Age Concern Slough a...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin