HC Deb 22 March 1963 vol 674 cc809-10
The Secretary of State for War (Mr. John Profumo)

With permission, Sir, I wish to make a personal statement.

I understand that in the debate on the Consolidated Fund Bill last night, under protection of Parliamentary Privilege, the hon. Gentlemen the Members for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) and for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) and the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), opposite, 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 Dr. Stephen Ward, whom we already knew slightly, and a Mr. Ivanov, who was an attaché at the Russian Embassy.

The only other occasion that my wife or I met Mr. Ivanov was for a moment at the official reception for Major Gagarin at the Soviet Embassy.

My wife and I had a standing invitation to visit Dr. Ward.

Between July and December, 1961, I met Miss Keeler on about half a dozen occasions at Dr. 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.

Mr. Speaker, I have made this personal statement because of what was said in the House last evening by the three hon. Members, and which, of course, was protected by Privilege. I shall not hesitate to issue writs for libel and slander if scandalous allegations are made or repeated outside the House.