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Tuesday, 30 December 2008

John Profumo

It is 45 years since Stephen Ward committed suicide. At the time, there was a complete cover-up of what was really happening. I thought it might be worthwhile looking at what we really know about the case today.

Stephen Ward was involved in recruiting young women to take part in sex parties held for the ruling elite in Britain. One of the women who held these parties was called Mariella Novotny, who had an expensive home in London provided by a wealthy night-club owner, Horace Dibben. These parties were attended by several ministers in the government.

Ward was in constant contact with a man who was known as “Woods”. At his trial Ward said that he had contact with Woods at Room 393 at the War Office. According to Christine Keeler in her autobiography published in 2001, Ward used to meet Woods at their flat. Ward told Keeler that Woods was interested in the names of the people who went to these sex parties.

Ward told the court that in early 1961 he informed Woods that John Profumo, the War Minister and Eugene Ivanov, an naval attaché at the Soviet embassy, were attending these parties.

In 1987 an investigation by the Sunday Times identified “Woods” as being Keith Wagstaffe, an MI5 officer working for DI Operations, a section of the Counter-Intelligence branch. We know from Stephen Ward's unpublished memoir, and from the report provided by MI5 for the government inquiry held by Lord Denning, that the intelligence services were especially interested in the activities of Eugene Ivanov, who they rightly considered was spying for the KGB. In one of these early meetings Ward asked if he should continue seeing Ivanov. Wagstaffe replied that he should but he needed to keep him informed about Ivanov's activities. The authors of the two main books about the case, An Affair of State and Honeytrap, claim that MI5 were attempting to entrap Ivanov is some sort of sex scandal in order to backmail him into becoming a double-agent. They are surely right about this.

We also know that the FBI were monitoring the women that Ward was using to entrap Ivanov. Mariella Novotny, Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies all visited the United States between 1960-62 and that released FBI documents show that they were suspected of having sex with leading politicians, including John and Robert Kennedy.

Mandy Rice-Davies, one of the prostitutes, involved in this “honeytrap” pointed out in her book published in 1980 that Ivanov resisted their advances. Keeler later claimed that she had sex with Ivanov on one occasion but most people who investigated this case, suspect that she was lying. This is also the view of Rice-Davies. It would seem that the “honeytrap” was not working.

Keith Wagstaffe was refused permission by MI5 to talk to the Sunday Times in 1987. However, unofficially, he did provide Philip Knightley, the journalist working on the case, with some key information. We now know for example that Ward warned MI5 that John Profumo had become embroiled in this “honeytrap”. However, it was sometime afterwards that Profumo was warned about this and he broke off contact with Keeler. This suggests to me that the intention of this honeytrap was to compromise politicians as well as KGB agents.

This is also the case in the United States. Bobby Baker, who used some of the same girls as Stephen Ward, was mainly interested in entrapping politicians. It is assumed, that this enabled Lyndon Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover to blackmail these politicians. John and Robert Kennedy both became victims of this plot.

One of the most interesting aspects of this US/UK honeytrap operation was the use of Mariella Novotny. It was not just enough to have evidence that politicians were having sex with prostitutes. It was vitally important to persuade them that were involved in a relationship with a KGB spy. The reality is that Mariella Novotny was not a KGB spy. In fact, Mariella Novotny was not even her right-name. Her birth certificate states that she was Stella Capes and she was born in the East End of London in 1942.

It was later claimed that her grandfather was Antonín Novotny, the President of Czechoslovakia from 1957 to 1968 and the General Secretary of the Communist Party from 1953 to 1968. If this is the case, and Mariella Novotny was a KGB spy, why would she make it easy for the intelligence services, by changing her name to indicate a link with a communist regime? It makes no sense at all, unless the real motive, was to aquire information to blackmail senior politicians with this story.

For more information on this story see the following pages of the Spartacus Educational website:

Christine Keeler


Stephen Ward


John Profumo


Eugene Ivanov


Mariella Novotny


Mandy Rice-Davies

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