John Profumo, Secretary for War, resigned on June 5th, 1963, after admitting he lied about his affair with Christine Keeler. Here’s how it unfolded, from my novella, Wicked Baby:
They’d been on a short trip to Venice, enjoying dinner in their hotel room when the telegram came. It was from Harold Macmillan’s private secretary, asking them to return. Jack didn’t want to; they were having such a nice time.
“We must go home and face it,” said Valerie.
He telephoned Mr Bligh. Neither mentioned any girl. Harold Wilson had contacted Mr Macmillan about a security matter involving Mr Profumo and Eugene Ivanov; there had been an indiscretion and the story had gone to the Sunday People.
“You must come back in case it goes to print,” said Mr Bligh.
Valerie booked places for them both on boat and train that night. Mr Bligh met Jack at Dover, while Valerie took a car to a friend’s house in Suffolk. All their friends were behind them. (“How awful,” they sighed, “to be hounded by a common tart.”)
Valerie phoned the au-pair and sent for their son. Jack busied himself in London. It was Whit-Sunday.
Mr Bligh had drafted a statement of resignation, which Jack approved. “It certainly is a pity,” they agreed.
“Poor Jack,” said Valerie to her friend. “I imagined we’d make it right to the top. Still, it wasn’t to be.”
Maybe now he’d spend more time at home.
It was announced on the six o’clock news. A prepared statement was read by Richard Dimbleby. ‘I said that there was no impropriety in this association. To my very deep regret I have to admit that this was not true…’