A Very Public Affair; It Was a 'Very British Sex Scandal' - an Aristocratic Government Minister, Call Girls, Drugs and Questions of National Security. on the 40th Anniversary of the Lord Lambton Affair, MIKE KELLY Look Backs on the Events Which Led to the North East MP Being Kicked out of Office

The Journal (Newcastle, England), May 13, 2013 | Go to article overview
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A Very Public Affair; It Was a 'Very British Sex Scandal' - an Aristocratic Government Minister, Call Girls, Drugs and Questions of National Security. on the 40th Anniversary of the Lord Lambton Affair, MIKE KELLY Look Backs on the Events Which Led to the North East MP Being Kicked out of Office


Byline: MIKE KELLY

EVERY January a batch of new names of the great and the good - and some not so good - of this country who died three years previously are added to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

By chance in 2010, two of them - former Conservative politicians John Profumo and Antony 'Lord' Lambton - were included who were not just linked by the year of their deaths, or the parties they served, but also by what precipitated their political demise.

Both were caught up in sex scandals which occurred 10 years apart - 1963 and 1973 - a period that saw the public's attitude towards such Establishment figures change from traditional respect to downright cynicism.

Dr Martin Farr, an expert in British politics and history at Newcastle University, said: "When the Profumo scandal occurred, it was very much a shock to the system. In some ways it was a starting point to the cynicism to come. When the Lambton affair happened, there'd been 10 years of ridiculing politicians and when the details were made public it wasn't much of a shock at all."

War Minister Profumo's relationship with Christine Keeler was one of the most celebrated scandals in British political history. He met Keeler in 1961 reputedly at a house party at Cliveden, the Buckinghamshire mansion owned by Lord Astor. Party guests included Profumo's wife and the 'society' osteopath and party arranger Dr Stephen Ward, a long-standing acquaintance of Keeler.

Profumo and Keeler had a brief affair before he ended their relationship.

But in late 1962 the story was made public at the same time as that of Keeler's relationship with Yevgeny 'Eugene' Ivanov, a senior naval attache at the Soviet embassy in London.

It was the height of the Cold War and the national security implications were grave to the extent that, in March 1963, Profumo felt compelled to lie to Parliament saying there was "no impropriety" between him and Keeler. In June of that year he admitted the lie and resigned as War Minister. Lambton, the second son of the fifth Earl of Durham, became Conservative MP for Berwick in 1951. He was tall with glistening dark hair and had a decadent reputation which was somehow enhanced by his trademark dark glasses. Lambton gave up his title in order to follow his political career, although he always insisted on being called 'Lord Lambton' and at the time of the scandal was in Ted Heath's government as under-secretary of state at the Ministry of Defence with responsibility for the RAF. His colourful private life and public position meant he was a scandal waiting to happen. Lambton was a self-confessed drug user as well as being repeatedly unfaithful to his wife Belinda, known as Bindy, with a string of mistresses and expensive call girls. In his defence, he was no hypocrite and did not belong to the moralising right.

He even advocated decriminalising cannabis. But that counted for nothing when in May 1973 he was finally exposed by a con man called Colin Levy who used a camera hidden behind a peephole in a mirror to photograph the peer in bed with his 26-year-old prostitute wife, Norma Levy, and another woman, Kim Pinder, at their flat in Maida Vale. Lambton was also pictured smoking marijuana. Other sex sessions were caught on cine film as well as audio recordings made with a microphone hidden in a teddy bear's nose next to Norma's bed. Mr Levy approached several newspapers in a bid to sell the pictures but Norma, with whom he had a stormy relationship, tipped off police.

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A Very Public Affair; It Was a 'Very British Sex Scandal' - an Aristocratic Government Minister, Call Girls, Drugs and Questions of National Security. on the 40th Anniversary of the Lord Lambton Affair, MIKE KELLY Look Backs on the Events Which Led to the North East MP Being Kicked out of Office
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