A new musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber chronicles the life of a key figure in the Profumo Affair.
But who was Stephen Ward, and what was his part in the downfall of the War Minister John Profumo?
Stephen Ward factfile
- Started working life as a carpet salesman, but later became an osteopath
- Patients included Winston Churchill, Ava Gardner and Lord Astor, who allowed him the use of a cottage on his Cliveden Estate
- Befriended a number of rich and powerful people at the notorious Thursday Club in the 1940s, including Prince Philip
- He was an amateur portrait painter and had members of the royal family sit for him, including the Duke of Edinburgh and the Duke and Duchess of Kent
- Had a liking for young attractive women, introducing them to his rich and famous friends
- He dated Christine Dior model Eunice Bailey in the 1950s, and, according to the autobiography of Diana Dors, was going out with starlet Jane Hart when they were filming Lady Godiva Rides Again.
- Was allegedly procuring clients for Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in the UK, who also had a walk-on part in the same film
The Profumo Affair
At a pool party at Cliveden, Stephen Ward introduced one of his protegees, Christine Keeler, to the War Secretary John Profumo.
They began a relationship, with Profumo unaware that Christine Keeler was also apparently sleeping with Yevgeni Ivanov, a naval attache at the Soviet embassy.
Stephen Ward was working with MI5 in an attempt to entrap Ivanov, and the affair quickly became known in establishment circles.
John Profumo denied the affair in a statement in the House of Commons, but was later forced to admit that he had lied, and resigned from the government in June 1963.
Stephen Ward was arrested in the same month, and charged with offences relating to prostitution. He took an overdose of sleeping pills on the night before the last day of the trial and was found in a coma the next morning. He died three days later.
While still in a coma, he was found guilty of living on immoral earnings, but not guilty of procuring (being a pimp).
Nothing Has Been Proved
Stephen Ward's role in the affair continues to be the subject of much speculation:
- In his book on the trial, Ludovic Kennedy suggests that Christine Keeler was, in fact, living off Stephen Ward's money, rather than he on hers, and describes his guilty verdict as a miscarriage of justice
- Keeler claimed in her 2001 autobiography that the MI5 chief Roger Hollis was a Soviet spy and that Stephen Ward ran a spy ring
- He was played by John Hurt in the 1989 film Scandal, and was mentioned as "Stephen" in the film's theme song "Nothing Has Been Proved" written by the Pet Shop Boys and sung by Dusty Springfield.
- He appears as a character in the 1997 novel London Blues by Anthony Frewin and was the basis of John Lawton's character Patrick Fitzpatrick in the 1998 novel A Little White Death
- His life was the subject for Thomas Hyde's music theatre piece That Man Stephen Ward in 2006
Watch the trailer for Stephen Ward above
Find out more about the musical on the website here