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John Profumo

Secretary of State for War
In office
27 July 1960 – 5 June 1963
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Harold Macmillan
Preceded by Christopher Soames
Succeeded by Joseph Godber
Personal details
Born
John Dennis Profumo

(1915-01-30)30 January 1915
Kensington, London, England
Died 9 March 2006(2006-03-09) (aged 91)
Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, South Kensington, London, England
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Valerie Hobson
(m. 1954-1998, her death)
Alma mater Brasenose College, Oxford
Military service
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Branch/service  United Kingdom Army
Years of service 1939 – 1950
Rank British Army OF-6.svg Brigadier
Battles/wars Second World War

John Dennis Profumo, CBE (30 January 1915 – 9 March 2006), always known as Jack Profumo, was a British soldier and politician. A scandal, known as the Profumo affair, led to his resignation and withdrawal from politics. It may have damaged the Conservative government of Harold Macmillan. Profumo spent his later life working for charities.

Profumo died of a stroke in London, aged 91.

Life

Profumo's father was a barrister, though the Profumo family's money was in insurance. The family sold the Provident Life Association for £6 million in the 1980s. Profumo was educated at Harrow and Brasenose College, Oxford. He joined the Army when war was declared, and in 1940 he became the youngest Member of Parliament. His military career is described:

"Profumo had a distinguished military career, being mentioned in dispatches during the North Africa campaign, and being appointed OBE (military) while serving on Field Marshal Alexander's staff in Italy. He was present at the surrender of the German forces in Italy and was later appointed Brigadier and Chief of Staff to the British Liaison Mission to General MacArthur in Japan. He also landed in Normandy on D-Day with an armoured brigade, and took part in the fierce fighting at Caen and in Operation Goodwood".

Affair

Profumo's political career was ruined by a combination of events. He and his wife accepted an invitation from Lord Astor to spend a weekend at his country estate, Clivedon. During that weekend he saw Christine Keeler get out of the swimming pool naked. Profumo asked for her phone number, and they became lovers. Unfortunately for Profumo, she was also having an affair with the Russian naval attaché and spy, Yevgeny Ivanov. When MI5 discovered this from a tip-off, Profumo ended the affair. Rumours circulated, and he was directly challenged about his relationship in the House of Commons. In a personal statement to the House of Commons, Profumo denied the accusation. This was perhaps his biggest mistake. He eventually confessed his affair, and resigned from the government and from Parliament.

Profumo was later (1975) awarded the CBE for services to charity.


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