Christine Keeler, who died a couple of months ago (Dec ‘17) at the age of 75 and who was, in 1963, the showgirl and “prostitute” at the centre of a Cold War-flavoured scandal thanks to her liaisons with a top-ranking British politician and Russian military-man, is not only considered widely to have contributed to the bringing down of the UK Conservative Party Government of the early ‘60s as a result of it, but to have been a harbinger and personified symbol of what came directly after; the ‘swinging Sixties.’ She’s been described as the first shot in the cultural youth explosion in music, fashion, cinema, photography, and, sexual permissiveness. Back then, when Britain’s media first began to report publicly on claims Keeler had been having sex with the British Secretary of State for War as well as a Soviet naval attaché and alleged KGB spy, the country was still, it’s said, living in a black & white, gloomy, buttoned-up and stuffy post-World War II existence. The decade had yet to enter the technicolour era of mini-skirts, the pill and ‘free love.’ In a 2013 documentary, Mandy Rice-Davies, an old showgirl friend of Christine’s and who became embroiled in the scandal as well, said of those days back in the early Sixties when the swinging was yet to begin, “if I fancied somebody (and) somebody fancied me – we went to bed… I felt I was part of the vanguard movement into the more liberal future.” When she and Keeler were first making waves in the British media back in those black & white days of ‘63, Beatlemania, another part of that “vanguard movement” that Mandy said she belonged to, was in its first flushes… That ‘swing’ in the Sixties that Christine, and The Beatles, are credited with ushering in was about to happen. But is that where any connection to her and the band, or the scandal, ends? I did wonder that as I reflected on her death a couple of months ago of the lung disease COPD, and prior to getting to work on this article. I’m aware that in the centre of this world that swung, Pop-stars, fashion-models, and film-actors not only partied and rubbed shoulders with politicians, royalty, the aristocracy and gangsters, but young showgirls. With that in mind, how likely is it that Christine knew The Beatles personally, and if so, to what degree? This is what I asked myself prior to putting this piece together for the website.
And so, I did a bit of digging and it became apparent fairly soon on in and throughout the remainder of my search too that both Keeler and the band were indeed inhabitants of a small world.
Below, are the results of what I discovered, interspersed with a condensed account of the scandal, how it came to be, and the characters involved as well as some of the other people who were close in contact with them. I think it’s important to include all this, especially for the benefit of anyone reading this who’s unfamiliar with what is said to have happened back then. There is merit in highlighting this scandal given its magnitude and its nature, and which has yet to be resolved (if ever). If we’re to believe what occurred, it touched into almost the very heart of what we’ve been led to understand secretly goes on in the world of the controlling, so-called ‘elites,’ the Establishment. If The Beatles were connected, then I feel it’s worth taking a look at it. This website is, after all, about the ‘hidden’ elements of the band and its members.
As you’ll find, the so-called ‘Profumo affair’ and its protagonists and bit-part players, whether alleged or otherwise, makes for an intriguing if not all-none-too surprising mix. There’s an adulterous politician, one or maybe two spies, a member of the aristocracy, and at least a couple of the British royal family. Also, throw in some freemasonry (possibly), occult rituals (possibly), and references to magick.
The roots of the scandal, depending on what source you read, reach back to 1961 or 1959, when Christine was working as a showgirl at a club in Soho, London with Mandy Rice-Davies. It’s there Keeler was introduced to Stephen Ward an osteopath in the city and whose clients included, we’re told, Winston Churchill, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, and American industrialist Paul Getty.
The son of a vicar and public-school educated, “Stephen… was erudite and witty with an easy charm: By the standards of the day, he was also dangerous: He loved the company of women and took not a blind bit of notice of the prevailing moral code,” Mandy once recalled. Christine eventually moved in with Ward and they divided their time between living in London or a rented cottage within the grounds of the Cliveden Estate situated in the English county of Buckinghamshire and belonging to William Waldorf Astor II, 3rd Viscount Astor of the Astor dynasty, one of the ‘elite’ bloodline families. He was a friend and a client of Ward, who was living in the waterside property for practically free of charge. “Stephen paid Bill Astor only £1 a year in nominal rent. In return, Bill got the talent of Stephen’s hands, which had first cured him after a hunting accident in 1950,” claims Keeler in her 2012 autobiography, ‘Secrets and Lies.’
Although she and Stephen lived together, her relationship with him was, she often claimed, platonic. Almost like a marriage without the sex. “I was used to men liking me but there was a subtext which involved me getting my clothes off. The difference with Stephen was that he wanted me to sleep with other people… Powerful people. Stephen Ward was a spymaster who befriended hosts of prominent and powerful people in the British Government, aristocracy… With associates, he lured many of them into compromising situations.” On the weekend of the 8th and 9th July 1961, Ward and Christine attended what’s said to have been a dinner-party at Bill Astor’s main Cliveden residence. It was there she met the British Secretary of State for War, John Profumo. Most accounts of this event you’ll come across declare that it was Stephen that introduced them. But this is not the version you’ll read in the foreword of Secrets and Lies. It claims the “introduction was made by Astor.”
The married cabinet-minister is said to have been attracted greatly to Keeler on their introduction and eventually the two embarked on a short-term affair, usually meeting at a flat she shared with Ward in London. During the same period, Christine, it’s said, had also been involved in sexual relations with Yevgeny Ivanov, a senior Russian naval attaché at London’s Soviet Embassy. He too attended the Cliveden weekend, and met Profumo there. Anthony Summers, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and author of the book, ‘The Secret Worlds of Stephen Ward: Sex, Scandal and Deadly Secrets in the Profumo Affair,’ has been quoted as suggesting that MI5, at that time, “quickly identified Ivanov as a Soviet intelligence-officer using diplomatic cover, a common practise worldwide.” Yevgeny was a good friend of Ward’s and regularly attended parties at the osteopath’s cottage, and, flat in London, which is where the Russian initially became acquainted with Keeler and Rice-Davies… A triangle connecting a showgirl, a British Government minister, and Soviet spy had been created. This was a Cold War-era political and national-security scandal in the making.
According to the book The Secret Worlds of Stephen Ward, some weeks prior to the Cliveden gathering, Ward said to Ivanov during a conversation, “what would happen to a Russian in Moscow who had an Englishman for a friend?” His friend replied, “oh, he’d be visited pretty soon by the Secret Service, just like you will be here.” Stephen dismissed this. “Nonsense,” he said. The Russian retorted, “oh yes you will.” And – the book goes on – indeed he was. Within a week of that prediction, on June 8th – exactly a month before the weekend gathering at Cliveden took place – “Ward received a telephone-call from the (British) War Office asking the osteopath if he would mind meeting ‘our Mr. Woods’ for ‘a little chat.’ ‘Woods’ was Keith Wagstaffe, an MI5 officer working for DI(a) Operations, a section of the counter-intelligence branch. Wagstaffe in turn then called Ward… Before calling, Wagstaffe had read an informant report noting that Ward ‘was… inclined to be against the government… At some time or other Ward had been declared bankrupt, and he is also believed to have been involved in a call-girl racket.’ Ward agreed to meet with Wagstaffe, and the two men lunched together in Marylebone (London). Wagstaffe openly acknowledged his affiliation to MI5. He said his people had ‘noticed’ Ward’s friendship with Ivanov. When Ward asked whether they had any objection, Wagstaffe replied, according to Ward, ‘none at all…’ Wagstaffe wanted to know what sort of questions the Soviet attaché had been asking, Ward recalled. ‘I put his mind at rest at once. Ivanov had never sought any guarded information.’ Wagstaffe told him, ‘if anything should happen that you feel we should know about, I want you to contact me immediately.’ Wagstaffe’s contact-report read: ‘Ward… was completely open about his association with Ivanov… Ward asked whether it was all right for him to continue to see Ivanov. I replied there was no reason why he should not. He then said that, if there was any way in which he could help, he would be very ready to do so. I thanked him for his offer and asked him to get in touch with me should Ivanov at any time in the future make any propositions to him… Despite the fact that some of his political ideas are certainly peculiar and are exploitable by the Russians, I do not think he is of security interest, but he is obviously not a person we can make any use of.’” The book’s author argues that, on the contrary, Ward probably was “of interest” and had been deliberately, and unwittingly, brought together with Ivanov in the first place by British intel services in a meeting not of pure chance but design. The two are said to have been introduced to each other over lunch in January 1961 by Colin Coote not only then-editor of the British broadsheet the ‘Daily Telegraph’ but, it’s claimed, a secret-intelligence officer. Anthony Summers has suggested that Wagstaffe’s previously mentioned contact-report had been “doctored” in the wake of the Profumo scandal in order to distance MI5 from any active involvement with Ward. Also, the agent’s lunch with the osteopath was, effectively, a bluff to fool Ivanov. “Not to have contacted Ward at this point,” the author argues, “would have seemed a suspicious omission… because it seemed the natural development Ivanov had in fact predicted.” Geoffrey Robertson, a British/Australian QC who’s looked into the Profumo scandal, has stated that MI5 had indeed recruited Ward. Furthermore, “there is evidence that the reason MI5 recruited Ward was to help ‘turn’” Ivanov. “A high-level decision was taken by its officials in early June 1961 to ask Ward’s help, at least to keep an eye on Ivanov to defect.” Stephen “later reported to them some details of the relationships between Profumo and Keeler and Ivanov and Keeler. Ward was being useful to the security-services, which were seriously considering a ‘defection’ operation, and MI5 has now admitted, in its ‘authorised’ history published in 2009, that Ward was being used by the (British) Foreign Office as a back channel to pass information through Ivanov to the Soviets.” However, the details surrounding the scandal and the events leading up to it have never been entirely clear. This is due to the fact that many of the official documents connected to it have never been released publicly and other ones have been locked away in an embargo that – at the time of publishing this article – will last for another 46 years (this has resulted in speculation as to the potentially explosive contents in these documents, explosive enough, perhaps, that they might threaten the very stability of Britain’s so-called ‘ruling classes,’ bringing about damaging consequences on the current government and those higher up as well as the outing of prominent, world-known – and still-living – public figures). Additionally, some people’s versions of events differ to others’. For example, if we’re to believe what Keeler has claimed, then it would appear that Ward wasn’t working with MI5 to have Ivanov ‘turned’ as Robertson has stated, but was seeking to attain, in a classically covert fashion, secret Government information from Profumo. In an article on the news-website ‘MailOnline’ from 2013, and which was published with Christine’s participation, it’s said, “Ward asked her to find out ‘through pillow-talk’ with Profumo, when nuclear warheads were going to Germany. Furthermore, she contends that Profumo’s briefcase was stuffed with ‘sensitive’ information which Ward was able to filch while she distracted the War Minister in the bedroom. Ward, she further claims, set her up with Ivanov so that she could be blamed for transmitting the secrets if word got out.” Christine has also been quoted as saying, “I was a spy and I am not proud of it, the truth is that I betrayed my country.” So, what was Ward? A KGB agent – working with, perhaps, Ivanov. Or was he MI5? Or maybe he was both? Furthermore, assuming Keeler’s claims are correct, could it be the secret data he wanted her to steal from Profumo wasn’t either for the British or Soviet governments necessarily, but for his own, to give to the highest bidder? One source quoted in Anthony Summer’s book and who claims to have been close to Ward at that time, has suggested that Stephen’s covert activities were at the behest of his landlord and client Bill Astor, a former Tory MP and then-serving member of the House of Lords. Meanwhile, some researchers believe the osteopath was working to actively discredit Profumo and, in turn, the British Conservative Government, thus paving the way for the eventual General Election victory of the Left-wing Labour Party in 1964. It has been said by some of those who knew Ward that his political views did veer to some degree or another towards socialist/communistic ones. If that is true, it could be possible that Stephen was, as I mentioned earlier, working with Ivanov covertly in some capacity. Concerns surrounding Ward’s relationship with Yevgeny were, we’re told, brought to the attention of John Profumo long before the scandal went public. British civil servant Sir Norman Brook, it’s claimed, met with the politician some time in mid-1961 and warned him that he should be careful of his association with the osteopath as it was feared he was passing on information to the Russian. Following this warning, it’s said the Government minister broke off his affair with Keeler in a letter that, ultimately, would contribute to his downfall just under two years later and that’s been dubbed, the ‘darling letter.’ Part of it reads:
In great haste because I can get no reply from your phone – alas something’s blown up tomorrow night… Blast it. Please take care of yourself…
So then… Wondering when references to The Beatles are going to get a look-in in this narrative?… Well… Not long now… Hang on…
For a time, Christine Keeler left Ward to become mistress to his friend, the so-called ‘slum landlord’ of London, Peter Rachman who, she claims, bought her “perfumes, nightgowns and jewels.” In ‘Secrets and Lies,’ she states, “his name was a dark shadow over London in the late 1950s and early 1960s. R-A-C-H-M-A-N spelt notoriety. Part of his legacy was to the English language. ‘The Concise Oxford Dictionary’ defines Rachmanism as: ‘Exploitation of slum tenants by unscrupulous landlords. From P. Rachman, London landlord of the early 1960s.’ Peter charged enormous rents for the properties and if there were problems the utilities would be switched off or the drains blocked. He had contacts in the Tory Government including one minister, Ernest Marples, who tipped him off about property.” It’s been claimed his properties were akin to hovels with damp-affected rooms, and – according to an accusation I’ve come across – at least one flat without a toilet. It’s also said if tenants fell into rent arrears they would be persuaded to leave by such means as itching-powder or dead rats left in beds. Eventually, Keeler left Rachman, at which point Rice-Davies became his girlfriend… But was Rachman as unscrupulous and ruthless as he’s been made out to be? He died in November 1962, it’s said, of a heart attack, and just months before the Profumo scandal hit, and which he was connected to by the media thanks to his relations with Christine and Mandy. In 1979, the biography ‘Rachman’ was published, but it wasn’t as damning an indictment as its author, Shirley Green, thought it would be when she first began writing it. In a BBC radio-documentary, she says, “I was in fact quite self consciously trying to think up a nice commercial subject… and I thought, everybody likes to read about a villain – and that’s when I thought of Rachman, and then it just didn’t work out like that because I couldn’t back-up any of the really horrendous stories with any sort of fact. The only tenants I found, had liked him… He let people go without paying the rent – he’d wait until they could pay him, and a man who worked for the estate-agent where Rachman bought many of his houses said Rachman was too soft to be a landlord.” Additionally, the police reportedly investigated Rachman in 1959 for intimidating tenants but couldn’t find any evidence. That’s not to say of course that he was an innocent. Men in positions such as Rachman’s know how to cover their tracks, and that’s what we could be looking at here. However, is it possible that the much-touted reputation of ‘slum landlord’ that has lived on after his death and that the media are said to have pumped-out during the Profumo scandal was a deliberate attempt at discrediting, not only his reputation, but that of Christine’s, Mandy’s, and his friend, Stephen Ward in a bid to cover up/diminish and/or keep public attention deflected away from the involvement in the affair of a Lord, a Government minister, and the British intelligence service? During my research into this article, I came across a blog that claimed Rachman used to have a tape-recorder under his bed at the house he shared with Rice-Davies during the early 1960s. I haven’t been able to corroborate this piece of information, but it did get me to thinking… Why would he do that? The only reason I can come up with is that he was using it to collect ‘pillow-talk’ that could then be used to blackmail, for whatever purpose. Furthermore – I’ll ask – is it possible that Mandy – or indeed Christine – were recorded whilst in bed with Rachman talking about Ward, or Profumo, or Ivanov, or Astor? And, if these claims on the blog are true, what happened to the tape-recorder, and was his death in late 1962 a natural one… or was it helped along in some way to silence him, perhaps in anticipation of the oncoming scandal?
The reason I’ve focused on Rachman here a little is because one of his so-called ‘henchmen’ was the Trinidad-born Michael de Freitas. In ‘Secrets and Lies’ Keeler states, “he was typical of the nastier of Peter’s men; he would carry out orders without question. Michael was a nasty piece of work, a real head-case. He could intimidate you just by being in the same street.” He’s also said to have been a pimp and a property landlord of his own – and, more interestingly for me – he was a key figure within the UK counter-culture of the 1960s working, socialising and liasing closely with the likes of Paul McCartney’s old friend Barry Miles who – during that decade – founded the avant-garde book-shop and art-gallery, ‘Indica’ with Marianne Faithfull’s then-husband John Dunbar as well as Peter Asher brother of English actress Jane Asher who also, of course, was, at the time, the long-term girlfriend of the aforementioned Beatle – who often funded and publicised the Indica (… More about the Ashers later). During the 1960s, de Freitas changed his name to Michael X launching himself as Britain’s equivalent to America’s Malcolm X. But not everyone was convinced. Barry Miles’s former wife, Sue recalls, “Malcolm (X) was probably hot stuff and for real; Michael was a pretty snaky character and he liked frightening people, he specialised in it. Michael wasn’t trying to address himself to the Race issue at all. He was trying to be a big frightening Black man, which he did quite successfully.”
In 1970, he took part in a publicity campaign with John Lennon and Yoko Ono at his ‘Black House’ building situated in Holloway, North London. Launched, it’s said, in 1969, he’s quoted as saying at the time that it was hoped it would act as a “cultural centre where things like a cinema and theatre will happen. There we hope to show the people of the host community what we are really like through our theatre…” Now, there is much that can be written about Michael when it comes to his connection to the Beatle and the counter-culture, but I’ll save that for another time as there’s a lot I’ve yet to still uncover and learn, and much of what I do already know isn’t relevant to this article. I’ll focus here instead on the basics and not veer too far off the Profumo affair. In February ‘70, the newly head-shorn John and Yoko appeared in front of TV and newspaper reporters with Michael and handed over to him a bag of their cut hair so that it could be auctioned to raise money for his Black House, which is where, on the building’s roof, the handing over ceremony took place for the media, and as can be seen in the pic below…
How did this meeting on the roof first come about?… According to the book ‘There’s a Riot Going On’ by Peter Doggett, and written with the co-operation of Yoko and The Beatles’ long-time and trusted PR-man Derek Taylor, “on several occasions in early December 1969, the receptionist at The Beatles’ ‘Apple’ headquarters announced an unexpected visitor for John Lennon…” It was Michael X, who by that time had changed his name yet again, to Michael Abdul Malik. Lennon gave him £10,000 “as advance against the royalties for a book that would be entitled ‘A Black Experience.’ There is no sign that either party ever expected the volume to be completed. According to the Black House treasurer, Terry X (A.K.A. Terry Radix), Lennon laid his hands on a substantial sum in cash, which Terry and Malik collected in a brown paper bag from Yoko at Apple’s office in Savile Row (London). After paying overdue wages to his Black House staff, Malik appears to have pocketed the remainder for his personal use.” In late January ‘69, Lennon informed Malik that he and Yoko would be visiting the Black House in February. “Then he instructed his Press-agent, Derek Taylor, to alert the national papers… Taylor and his Apple assistant, Richard DiLello, duly accompanied the Lennons to the Black House on February 4th 1970. The party climbed up to the Black House roof, where they waited for journalists to arrive. Lennon produced the bag of hair that he and Yoko had collected… and held the contents triumphantly above his head. Malik’s voice faltered as he told the Press that he would have preferred to ‘keep and cherish’ the couple’s hair, but that he intends to auction it. He hoped to raise funds for his organisation which, he claimed, required £120,000 to maintain its community presence.” No money was raised from John and Yoko’s hair. “After auctioneers ‘Sotheby’s’ and ‘Christie’s’ refused to handle the sale of the hair, Malik planned to divide it into thousands of minute portions, each artistically presented in a gift-box. But nobody at the Black House had the patience to carry out such a scheme, and the Lennon’s offering soon lay forgotten on an office shelf. Three days after his abortive PR exercise, the Lennons accompanied Malik on the popular BBC TV programme ‘The Simon Dee Show.’ It was Malik’s only exposure to the mainstream, and it won him few converts. Not that Lennon was abashed. ‘We’re going to do a poster with him, a John and Yoko poster,’ he explained in mid-February. ‘It will have Black and White is beautiful on it, and try to hustle a bit of bread for him. But mainly PR is the thing, showing that Black is beautiful’…” The book later goes on to claim that in late 1970, Malik “nagged” Lennon for “more cash… to stave off the… physical collapse” of the Black House. John and Yoko “discovered that the root of the problem was vandalism, carried out by some of the youths for whom the centre had been intended.” According to a quote I’ve found on the blog ‘DarkestLondon.com,’ and which is attributed to the highly regarded biography of Michael by author John L. Williams (and a book I certainly intend on purchasing and reading soon), “as 1969 turned into 1970, it was becoming obvious that whatever the Black House was, it was not an inspiring oasis of peace and love in the midst of grimy North London. Instead it was an intimidating establishment used as a base for various kinds of illegal activity.” In ‘There’s a Riot Going on,’ Derek Taylor is quoted as saying, “there had been stories of humiliation and torture at the Black House, but I in those times wouldn’t believe anything bad of a ‘radical.’” The book goes on, “similar tales had reached the Metropolitan Police, and Malik was summonsed to appear in court in February 1971, to answer charges of intimidating several former associates.” From what I can gather, this serious brush-in with the authorities relates to the so-called ‘slave collar affair’ which is reported to have involved a Jewish businessman by the name of Marvin Brown who was said to have been enticed to the Black House and made to wear a spiked slave collar around his neck as Malik and his associates threatened him to extort money. For me, the details surrounding this incident and its aftermath are somewhat sketchy, and by that I mean I’ve been unable to locate solid and verifiable enough data as to the exact dates relating to it all although – it’s true – Michael did appear in court to answer the allegations, but much earlier than February ’71. Now, bear with me here because this gruesome episode does connect to Lennon… With regards to a timeline, I’ve come across a page from the stock-photography agency website ‘Alamy’ that reports on the ongoing ‘slave collar’ court-case and quotes the date, June 6th 1970. It also states that the prosecution accused Malik and his gang of making Marvin Brown “wear a slave collar” after which they proceeded to “march him in a room like an animal in an agricultural exhibition… Malik and about 25 to 30 coloured men mocked the businessman…” According to DarkestLondon.com, the incident occurred in April of 1970. It states:
A young Black American actor called Leroy House had been to work at a central London cleaning agency, but after various deductions the pay he received was less than he was expecting. Hearing the complaint, Michael assembled three men from the Black House and went to ‘Clean-A-Flat’ cleaning company in Newburgh Street. They demanded £3 from the owner, 25-year-old Marvin Brown, and when he said he didn’t have any money on him, Michael picked up a bunch of files from his desk and said he could have them back if he came to the Black House with the £3. Brown called the police, and they headed down to the Black House.
Backed up by some 25 Black House regulars, Michael told the police to leave as they didn’t have a warrant. Left alone, Brown decided to pay the £3. Instead, Michael told him to come back in 30 minutes, and when he did, a court was assembled – some 30 Black men and Black and White women – and demanded Brown make amends for the way Black people had been treated throughout history. Brown protested that as a Jew, he was also part of a persecuted minority – but no-one was impressed by this. Instead, they put a spiked slave collar on Brown, and marched him round the room until he burst into tears. When some of the women protested, his ordeal stopped and he was given his files back, but Michael then wanted him to pay a fine for bringing the police with him. Brown handed over all the money he had with him – £13… He was then released. The police were waiting outside and Brown told them about his ordeal.
A week later, 50 policemen burst into the Black House and arrested everyone who’d been there during the original raid on Brown’s office. All facing trial, Michael decided to flee to Trinidad…
Malik fled to Trinidad in early 1971 after, it’s said, Lennon paid his bail money. That’s a claim that’s been attributed to ‘The John Lennon Encyclopaedia,’ a book compiled by journalist Bill Harry, an old friend of John’s from back in Liverpool where they attended art college together and shared the same flat. If it’s true that the by-then former Beatle did indeed pay for his release, then I must ask; did he know Michael was going to escape the trial once he was let go temporarily on his guarantee, because if he did, that – if I’m not mistaken(?) – classifies Lennon as aiding & abetting. According to a newspaper report I’ve come across dated July 1971, a British judge ordered Malik’s immediate arrest after “he failed to show up in court.” Months earlier, in April 1971, Peter Doggett writes, John and Yoko, following a trip they made to the Virgin Islands, spent a couple of days with Michael in Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad. He’d set up a new centre – or, what most reports on the internet describe as a ‘commune’ near there on a country-estate he’d leased called ‘Christina Gardens’… It was here, in early 1972, that police unearthed the freshly-buried body of his cousin, Joseph Skerritt and another person during an investigation, reportedly, into a fire that had burned down Malik’s house. Their unearthing led to his arrest, and later that year, he was found guilty of murdering his relative and sentenced to death by hanging. The other corpse was that of Gale Benson, a young, White Englishwoman and the daughter of a former British MP. She’s also said to have been a follower and supporter of the ‘Black Power’ cause, hence her association with Christina Gardens. However, Michael’s associates and henchmen, it’s said, believed her to be an MI6 spy working undercover to destroy their movement. As a result – and on Malik’s orders, allegedly – they killed her by stabbing her repeatedly then pushing her into a shallow grave and burying her alive. When Joseph Skerritt heard about the killing, he attempted to blackmail them, demanding money for not going to the police. In response, we’re told, his cousin Michael led him to a deep pit that had been dug on the property and stabbed him to death before having him buried there. QC Geoffrey Robertson – who was mentioned earlier on in this article for his investigation into the Profumo affair – was a young, newly-qualified lawyer back then and one of his first assignments was representing Malik in the battle to have the death sentence on him overturned, a battle that lasted for about three years or so… And – once again – Lennon was there to help. He and a number of other high-profile figures including, it’s reported, Leonard Cohen, William Burroughs and Dick Gregory became a part of ‘The International Committee to Save Michael X.’ On July 16th 1973, John and Yoko issued a Press-release that stated: “Abdul Malik free spirit and visionary… is scheduled to be hung any day now it is too late to weigh the merits of his innocence or to deny his guilt we know him as a friend and brother. We ask you to do whatever you can to save this man… All life is sacred and there is no room for hatred.” According to Peter Doggett’s book, Lennon also offered to auction off a piano that he’d written several Beatles songs on in a bid to raise money for Malik’s defence… But it was all to no avail… He was hanged in May 1975.
There is speculation that Malik’s execution was used to cover up his involvement, perhaps, in something far bigger than the murder of his cousin, something that connects to the higher echelons of the Establishment. This perhaps has been fuelled by the claim that a Government file on him has been locked up until 2054… Is Lennon featured in it? At this point, I’ll turn the attention to a most fascinating and entertaining British film titled ‘The Bank Job.’ Have you seen it? Released in 2008, it’s a fictional dramatisation of a real-life bank-robbery that occurred in Baker Street in London in September 1971. The robbers are reported to have gotten away with a stash worth millions of pounds, and that they thieved from safety deposit boxes… But, is there actually more to this incident than just that, the official-flavoured version of what we’re told occurred? Written by popular TV-comedy and drama writers Dick Clement and Ian la Frenais, the film connects the heist to the British Secret Service, the illegal porn industry, a member of the House of Lords, as well as Gale Benson, and Malik who, in fact, is one of the central characters in the movie’s narrative. Actor, Jason Statham plays the role of the robbery-gang’s leader. Together, he and his crew tunnel into the bank and raid the boxes for money only to find – to their complete surprise – that a couple of them are filled with sexually explicit and incriminating photographs of Establishment figures. They also find a photo seemingly taken in a street of Michael X standing next to John Lennon (not a ‘real life’ photo mind you, but the movie-makers’ depiction of one, with the roles of John and Michael played by the actors Alan Swoffer and Peter de Jersey respectively). What’s not noted in the film is that pictures of child pornography were found… Well, that’s if we’re to believe what one of the former robbers has anonymously claimed decades after the incident. In an interview in 2008 for the British newspaper/website ‘The Mirror,’ the unnamed source says that he and his fellow gang “realised we had a lot more than we’d bargained for” when they opened up one of the boxes. “What was most disturbing was the child pornography we found. We were disgusted and left it in their open boxes so police could trace the owners.” In 2016, the “close confidante” of a notorious robber who claims to have taken part in the Baker Street heist but who’s never been arrested or charged for it, is reported as saying in The Mirror that the gang “found photographs of a famous (Tory) politician abusing children. The gang were disgusted and left them lying on the floor of the vault for the police to find but nothing was ever done.” Indeed, it’s reported that, days after the robbery, a D-notice was issued, a Government order that forbade the Press from reporting on certain events. A most unusual move for a bank-heist, unless of course some if not all the information in The Bank Job, plus the claims of the alleged former participants in the robbery, are true?… Do you smell a cover-up reaching to the highest heights of the British Establishment?
In the film, the robbers are shocked to discover that they’ve been duped into orchestrating the bank break-in by the Secret Service who’ve implanted an undercover mole within the gang and who’s been tasked with retrieving incriminating photographs of – as it’s described in the film – “a certain royal princess.” The potentially explosive pictures are found stored in a safety deposit box belonging to Malik who’s using the photos as a blackmailing bargaining chip to ensure his immunity from prosecution in Britain for his criminal activities, and also to guarantee his safe return to Trinidad. Unfortunately for him, the authorities get hold of the photographs and, at the end of the film, we see Michael being arrested for Gale Benson’s murder whilst a British Secret Service operative orders the burning down of the house at Christina Gardens.
It’s perhaps no surprise to you that the ‘certain royal princess,’ but whose name isn’t actually revealed in the film, is Queen Elizabeth II’s sister, Margaret. This allegation has been widely speculated on in the mainstream media over the years and, according to an article in The Telegraph from 2008, Ian Clement was personally told about it prior to getting to work on the movie by an individual by the name of George McIndoe who claims to have met at least two of the Baker Street robbers. Meanwhile, the links made in The Bank Job to Malik and the Secret Service are, the writer says, “all conjecture… But what is curious is that I have seen something that says that Michael X’s file is buried until 2054, which is extraordinary. I mean, what the hell he had that was keeping him out of jail, and which was so important that they don’t want it known about… well, it boggles the mind. Even if it was photographs of the royal family, you’d have thought that that wouldn’t have had such a long after-life. But certainly the connection (to Princess Margaret) is a fairly obvious one. And while we’ve become so used to royal scandals since then, in 1971 it would have been a much bigger deal. There was a lot of sensitivity because of the Christine Keeler affair and they didn’t want another scandal dancing around like that. That’s the theory, anyway.”
And so, we find ourselves back with Christine Keeler and the Profumo affair – but the links to the royal family don’t stop here… As well as being a talented and popular osteopath, Stephen Ward was a sketch-artist who’d drawn portraits of a number of well-known figures including, it’s said, the actress Sophia Loren, and – ironically – Harold Macmillan who was Prime Minister at the time of the scandal and of course, who many believe, later relinquished his premiership as a consequence of it. Someone else who posed for a drawing was Princess Margaret, as did her father, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
I’ve been led to understand that, back in the 1960s when the mainstream media’s coverage of the Profumo affair was at its height, at least one newspaper published allegations that controversially linked Ward to the Queen’s husband, citing that they were both members of the exclusive ‘Thursday club,’ a small group of men who, it’s said, met regularly and socialised together at a restaurant in Soho, London. The actors David Niven and Peter Ustinov belonged to this set as did musician Larry Adler, and, the Kray twins. Remember those documents I mentioned earlier related to the whole Profumo affair and that have been embargoed for 40-plus years? I wonder if any of the above is noted in them? In 2012, the British newspaper/website ‘The Express’ published allegations it claims to have received from Soviet intel agents that both Princess Margaret and her father were being spied on by the KGB during the 1960s. It’s claimed “intelligence was gathered on Prince Phillip via society osteopath and artist Stephen Ward, who boasted of a 15-year friendship with the Prince…” In her autobiography ‘Secrets and Lies,’ Christine Keeler claims that “Stephen told me how he and… Prince Phillip had all visited nightclubs together in the 1940s. They were quite wild times and it was thought to be a little delicate for Prince Phillip when Elizabeth became Queen, according to Stephen. He had no time for Phillip and would always put him down in conversation for he hated the Establishment.”
In October 2013, it’s reported that a Russian TV-documentary was set to be screened that would claim Ward’s friend Yevgeny Ivanov had taken possession of some “scandalous” photographs of Prince Phillip at the Thursday Club during the 1950s as part of the KGB’s bid to discredit the British royal family. I haven’t seen the programme unfortunately as I’ve been unable to find any information about it on the internet, with the exception of an article from the MailOnline which claims the photos “were taken in the 1950s by the Duke’s close friend and fellow club member, photographer Baron Nahum. According to the programme… Soviet spy Yevgeny Ivanov used a special camera to take copies of the photos from an album in the possession of Stephen Ward… who was also associated with the club.” And if you want to mix fact with, we’re told, fiction, and as we did earlier with The Bank Job, Last year, the British biographical TV-drama miniseries on Queen Elizabeth II and titled ‘The Crown,’ featured an episode centring on the Prince’s connection to Stephen Ward. I haven’t seen this either, so – again – I’ll rely on the MailOnline which claims there’s one “fictitious scene” where “the Queen confronts her husband about the nature of his relationship with Stephen Ward… Elizabeth – played by (actress) Claire Foy – is also shown conspiring to keep details of Phillip’s involvement out of the public domain.” As the scandal begins to break in public in 1963, “rumours begin to grow that a ‘mystery man’ photographed with his back to the camera at one of Ward’s parties is Phillip.” An idea as to what the Prince may or may not have participated in at one of Ward’s parties can be described by Christine Keeler who, in ‘Secrets and Lies,’ recalls, “Stephen could always sense people’s sexual tastes – and egg them on, make them go further than they might have otherwise. Stephen knew all the Masonic handshakes and he said that at some of the parties the girls would just wear leather Masonic aprons. Some of the women Stephen was involved with were heavily into sadistic sex and there were ‘black magic’ parties, which were really just an excuse for group sex sessions.” Whether they were “an excuse” or not, the veteran British entertainer Michael Bentine, a former member of groundbreaking comedy-group The Goons, and someone who is said to have known Ward, claims in his 1984 book ‘The Doors of the Mind,’ that he met the osteopath backstage in the dressing-room of a show he was appearing at in the West End of London. “He was obviously connected with some sort of magical or esoteric group,” he recalls, “but to me he didn’t fit into the conventional frame of spiritualist or psychic researcher. I picked up, through his covert references, that he was more inclined towards ritual magical practises than towards straightforward paranormal awareness and its development for healing in which, as a successful physiotherapist, he would be thought likely to specialise. His involvement in black magic was later confirmed by Dom Robert Pettitpierre, the late exorcist of the Church of England.” He goes on, “most people have only the vaguest ideas of what a ‘ritual magical society’ is like, probably because the material they have read in this context has been mainly sensationalised rubbish.”
Someone else who’s said to have met Ward is, Brian Epstein. This is a claim that’s been made directly to Redwel Trabant of the highly recommended blog ‘Beatles Conspiracy’ “by someone who claims to have been there.” So the story goes, the Beatles’ manager first came into contact with the osteopath in the very early 1960s during a visit to London, after having travelled down from Liverpool briefly “trying to hawk” the-then largely-unknown band around to record-companies in the capital. The website’s author states that, “on the face of it this seems to be a very strange suggestion,” and then asks, “why would The Beatles manager be introduced to, or think it worthwhile to meet Stephen Ward the osteopath? Well, Ward was no ordinary osteopath, having treated Ghandi, his list of patients grew to include Winston Churchill, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Prince Phillip, Lord Astor… Ward was a society fixer. If you wanted a girl, or indeed a boy, Ward could not only arrange it but, should it be required, sort out a venue, outfits, accessories and take a commemorative photograph as well. Ward was the archetypal wedding planner for the rich and famous only without the wedding. Indeed, MI5 described Ward as ‘being the provider of popsies for rich people.’” Given that homosexuality in the UK was illegal prior to 1967, gay men such as Epstein had to be discreet when seeking out sexual pleasures for fear of arrest and public scandal. Ward, theoretically, as a well-connected “fixer,” could provide Brian with what he wanted and with little to no risk of detection from unwanted quarters. On the other hand, considering that Stephen appears to have been either, and, or, a KGB/MI5 agent who also attended sex parties and, in Keeler’s words, “lured many of” his associates “into compromising situations,” I suppose it could be argued that Ward may have had the inclination to secretly monitor Epstein on behalf of his intelligence contacts as he’d done, allegedly, to Prince Phillip, John Profumo, and Yevgeny Ivanov.
Similar to the rise of The Beatles, the Profumo affair didn’t break out into mass-public consciousness until 1963, although in both cases, the seeds of that attention were being sown in 1962. In the summer of that year, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison entered ‘EMI’ studios at Abbey Road in London for their maiden recording-session there, and Pete Best, their long-serving drummer, was sacked and replaced with Ringo Starr, and it was also during this time, it’s said, that the first printed reference was made in the media on what would become the Profumo scandal – although it was a vague and cryptic one. It’s reported to have been published in a column in a magazine called ‘Queen,’ and titled, ‘Sentences I’d Like to Hear the End of.’ I’ve been led to understand by a couple of sources on the internet that – and, to quote one of them – Keeler, Ivanov, and the British Secretary of State for War were “beginning to be the subject of gossip.” This indeed appears to have been a small world. According to the book ‘Beautiful Idiots and Brilliant Lunatics: A Sideways look at 20th Century London’ by author and blogger Rob Baker, the article in the magazine was “written… by the associate editor, Robin Douglas-Home, a nephew of Lord Home, the Foreign Secretary at the time.” In October 1963 as the Profumo scandal laid waste to reputations and careers, Lord Home took over as Prime Minister from Harold Macmillan after he resigned, reportedly, due to ill health. I’ll also note briefly at this point that the aforementioned associate editor was a friend of Princess Margaret, and for a brief spell during 1967, her lover. He died 18 months after she ended their affair in a reported “suicide.” In the ‘Beautiful Idiots’ book, Rob Baker states that Robin was a “part of Princess Margaret’s social set. Home, who always kept his ears close to the ground, was exceedingly well-placed to hear any society gossip,” such as what was rumoured to be going on with Keeler, Ivanov, and Profumo. The aforementioned magazine-article in Queen and alluding to the gossip stated: “… called in MI5 because every time the chauffeur-driven ‘Zil’ drew up at her front-door, out of the back-door into a chauffeur-driven ‘Humber’ slipped…” This, writes Barker, “sent shockwaves” through the British Government and London’s (and indeed, Britain’s) newspaper capital, Fleet Street, although to almost everyone else “it was no more than a fragment of a sentence and utterly incomprehensible and innocuous…” The reference in the piece to “a chauffeur-driven Humber” is most likely referring to the ministerial car that Yevgeny Ivanov is said to have been driven around in. According to the book ‘Unholy Joy: A Short History of the Profumo Affair’ by author and TV producer/director John Lawton, two days after first having sex with Keeler, Ivanov visited her flat and took her out for a drive “around London in the chauffeured ministerial Humber.” However, it was a shooting incident outside a flat in London belonging to Ward in December 1962 that resulted in the gossip being catapulted into the mass, mainstream consciousness. Johnny Edgecombe, a young West Indian who earned a living as a driver for jazz musicians and who was Keeler’s girlfriend for a time, turned up with a gun outside Stephen’s and began firing it at the front-door when Christine wouldn’t let him in. Eventually, he was arrested and charged with intent to kill her. The incident attracted the attention of the newspaper and TV media and, it’s said, reporters began to camp outside Keeler’s flat in the hope of an exclusive interview. She claims a friend of hers at the time by the name of Nina Gadd and who “had been feeding the gossip-columns and called herself a freelance journalist,” sensed an opportunity “to make a killing” here and brought the unsuspecting Christine into contact with a reporter from a national newspaper who offered to buy her story on Profumo as well as the ‘Darling letter’ he’d sent her, despite her reservations about going public with his identity in the Press. She was assured that his name couldn’t be printed and he’d be referred to instead as “an anonymous Government minister.” And so, she went ahead and made a deal although, ultimately, nothing was printed because Ward, it’s said, intervened and had it stopped with threats of legal action. The newspaper also returned the ‘Darling’ note to the minister via his solicitor – but kept itself a copy of it too! “Soon,” states John Lawton, “copies of the copy began to pass around Fleet Street.” By March of ‘63, the hushed rumours were an open, public secret and Profumo was forced to make a statement to the House of Commons about his alleged relations with Keeler, Ward, and Ivanov who – it’s interesting to point out – was called back unexpectedly (they say) to Russia in January of that year as the black clouds of scandal were beginning to form in Britain. The minister admitted to having met Yevgeny at Bill Astor’s weekend gathering at Cliveden, and to being a close acquaintance of Ward’s and, to a lesser extent, Christine’s, but denied that he and she were involved in any “impropriety.” Stephen backed-up the politician in the media, perhaps assuming (or hoping) that his old Establishment friends would, in return, defend him from the scandal-hunters… They didn’t. He was arrested and then stood trial in July ’63 on pimping charges including, so states Geoffrey Robertson in his book ‘Stephen Ward Was Innocent, OK,’ for “living from the immoral earnings of Christine Keeler, a ‘common prostitute’…” He was also indicted for allegedly doing the same with Rice-Davies. The QC believes “Ward was charged with crimes for which there was no evidence that he or anyone else had committed. Ward was made a scapegoat for the Profumo affair which became so toxic for the Macmillan government. He knew that Profumo had lied to Parliament about his relationship with Keeler… ” Much of what Robertson lays out there has been echoed by Phillip Knightley, co-author of the 1987 book, ‘An Affair of State: The Profumo Case and the Framing of Stephen Ward.’ In a 1989 TV documentary he said, “I have it on very good information, that at a meeting that was held in early 1963, the Home Secretary, Henry Brooke, said at this meeting, ‘somebody must be responsible for all this.’ So, the word got around that the Government wants a scapegoat in this case. The Commissioner of Police was present at this meeting and he thought, ‘well, maybe there is something we can charge Ward with? Maybe Ward is guilty of breach of the Official Secrets Act?’ And he looked at that and there was nothing there and then he looked… he asked around the police in Ward’s own area – Marylebone – and there on file at Marylebone police-station was a lot of anonymous complaints that Ward had been running a call-girl racket. Now that was untrue – untrue in the sense that you imagine a call-girl racket to be providing girls for money. Ward didn’t provide girls for money. Ward introduced willing young ladies to gentlemen who were interested in them.” Keeler shared this view pretty much. She maintained throughout her life that she wasn’t a prostitute, and Mandy insisted that she herself had never been pimped off by Ward for money either. In a 2014 article for the MailOnline, in which she accused the trial of being “vindictively rigged” against him, she also argued that he was charged for “a tawdry crime he did not commit.” She then went on, “I think that the Government was eager to shift attention away from security risks… and on to the shenanigans of the ‘fast set.’ There could be no better way of doing this than by putting Stephen’s louche lifestyle on trial.” Keeler concurred. She once said, “I know the truth and it is far more shocking than what the public has been fed by the British Establishment. Sex was a game – spying was a serious business. Far better that the Establishment be caught with its pants down than involved in stealing secrets – that was the thinking. Far better for the public to be titillated by aristocratic misdemeanours…” So, an orchestrated smoke-screen was set up to shift the public’s focus away from other more infinitely important but hidden aspects of the entire affair, and Stephen was the unwitting sacrificial lamb that was chosen to make this happen. On July 30th, following the judge’s summing up of the trial, Ward went to the flat of a friend’s where he was staying and reportedly attempted to kill himself with a drugs overdose. He was taken to hospital. The next day, as he lay comatose, the trial continued in his absence and reached a verdict of guilty on two counts; Count 1, that he lived on the earnings of Keeler and (Count 2) Mandy Rice-Davies. On August 3rd, Stephen died after never regaining consciousness.
Veteran British TV reporter Tom Mangold was working at the ‘Daily Express’ newspaper at the time, and he was a friend of Ward’s. He claims to have been at the flat shortly before he took the overdose. He’s said, “Ward killed himself having been targeted by a vindictive State seeking a scapegoat for Profumo’s behaviour. Fearing contamination, most of his many ‘friends’ deserted him, and British intelligence agencies who had been happy to use him failed to speak up in court. Ward was a broken man when he took an overdose… ” Geoffrey Robertson states that Ward “had attempted suicide, because (as he said in a note), ‘after Marshall’s (the judge’s) summing up, I’ve given up all hope.’” Mangold claims that during his visit to the flat, Stephen handed him one of the many notes he was writing to friends and associates, and which the reporter didn’t realise till sometime afterwards were suicide letters because, as he’s recalled, he didn’t read his “till later.” One of them, he’s said, read, “delay resuscitation as long as possible.” This is, I must remark, most odd, that is if we’re to take seriously the reported claims of an alleged “MI6 asset” by the name of Lee Tracey who, in recent years, is said to have claimed that the British intel services had Ward murdered with an enforced overdose. If this is true, then Mangold’s version of events regarding the night of Stephen’s overdose is, to put it mildly, way off course. The allegations were published in an article in 2013 in The Telegraph by Neil Tweedie…
… The wrong done to Ward may have been much worse than being made a scapegoat. Accounts of his end contain the standard ingredients: a man deserted by his erstwhile friends, alone in the early hours as disgrace beckons; a desperate succession of suicide notes written and addressed to recipients; a bottle of pills; the only “decent thing” left to do.
Could there, however, have been another ingredient – Stanley Rytter?
Rytter was a ‘deniable,’ a freelance operative for both MI5 and MI6… An intelligence colleague of his has gone on the record to claim that, in a deathbed confession, the Pole admitted that he murdered Ward to ensure his silence.
“It was decided that Ward had to die,” says Lee Tracey… “Stanley Rytter is the one who killed Ward. I know because he told me. Rytter told me he was paid to kill Ward. He convinced Ward that he ought to have a good night’s sleep and take some sleeping pills. He let Ward doze off and then woke him again and told him to take his tablets. Another half an hour later or so, he woke Ward again and told him he’d forgotten to take his sleeping pills. So it went on, until Ward had overdosed. It might sound far-fetched, but it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. Once the victim is drowsy he will agree to almost anything.”
Ward, says Tracey, knew too much. For years, he had cultivated the high and mighty of British society, supplying friends with girls, not for money but for the kudos of moving within such circles. Politicians, aristocrats, even royalty, all attended Ward’s gatherings, some of which involved sadomasochism.
That the death of Ward was convenient for Britain’s social and political elite is beyond doubt. Reputations remained intact that might otherwise have been destroyed in a flurry of disclosures about the sexual adventures of the great and good. The intelligence services, meanwhile, were rid of a potential embarrassment. Ward had been their man, a source of useful information on the peccadilloes of MPs, peers, diplomats and others. But when the Profumo story exploded, MI5, the domestic security service, and MI6, the foreign intelligence service, both involved with Ward, ran for cover.
… Tom Mangold… knew Ward well. He… dismisses out of hand the notion that he was murdered, pointing to the numerous suicide notes penned by the osteopath.
However, there is a discordant aspect to the night of the supposed self-administered overdose. Some time after Mangold’s departure, Bryan Wharton, a Daily Express photographer, was asked to meet Ward at the osteopath’s flat in Bryanston Mews, not Mallord Street in Chelsea, where he was staying. There, Wharton found Ward engaged in writing a letter to Henry Brooke, the home secretary. It was full of names and Wharton managed to get a shot of it. Ward, he said, was “extremely upset” and insistent that Wharton should be at the Home Office at 7.30am the next day to photograph him delivering the missive. There was another man there. Wharton left Ward some time after midnight and delivered his pictures to the Express. They subsequently disappeared.
Just for the record, Geoffrey Robertson believes that those in the corridors of power were nervous because Ward had been “threatening to expose the truth.” Just one example, in March of 1963, Stephen had reportedly written to opposition Labour Party leader Harold Wilson stating that Profumo had lied.
Meanwhile, in this seemingly small world, we see the name of Peter Rachman popping up again…
Rytter was a former employee of Polish intelligence who had escaped to Britain during the war. He sometimes used journalistic cover to mask his activities, and also worked for Peter Rachman… the most notorious racketeer landlord in post-war London.
It was Rachman, says Tracey, who recommended Rytter to Ward. The latter was living in “abject fear” at the time of his trial and was persuaded that he should have a minder.
“Bumping people off was not Rytter’s forte,” says Tracey, who spoke with the dying Rytter in 1984. “He could be boastful. But why does a man who knows he is dying lie about something like that? What has he got to gain?”
Tracey was not alone in believing that Rytter had “assisted” Ward’s death. Another associate of Rachman, Serge Paplinski: “Stanley was there with Ward on that last night. He always said that Ward was poisoned.”
It’s perhaps also worth noting at this point the words of Michael Bentine the previously-mentioned Goon Show star who, during WWII was, as is widely reported, a member of RAF intelligence and MI9 which was a department of the War Office between 1939 and 1945 and that was tasked with facilitating escapees of British prisoners of war and enabling the return of allies who succeeded in evading capture in enemy-occupied territory.
In Anthony Summer’s The Secret Worlds of Stephen Ward, the entertainer is quoted as saying, “a Special Branch friend of mine told me Ward was ‘assisted’ in his dying. I think he was murdered.” Bentine, according to the book’s author, “declined to be drawn further” on this allegation.
During Stephen Ward’s trial in the summer of ‘63, Mandy Rice-Davies appeared in the court-room as a witness. When one of the barristers put it to her that Bill Astor had denied ever having been involved with her, she famously replied, “well, he would, wouldn’t he?” He died in 1966 and his son, William, succeeded him as Viscount. In the 1970s he married Annabel Lucy Veronica Jones. She had a daughter from a previous marriage and whose name was Samantha, the future wife of now former British Prime Minister David Cameron. In May 1965, The Beatles filmed on location at Cliveden House for their second big-screen movie, ‘Help!’ As Paul McCartney has since recalled, the scenes in it where we see them at Buckingham Palace were, actually, shot at the Astor residence in, it’s said, the French dining-room.
“We shot a sequence where we’d used the house, pretending it was Buckingham Palace,” recalled McCartney in 2008. “I’m not sure the Queen would have allowed that. I’d been out there with the Beatles and we met Lord Astor and he was on his last legs. I remember him offering us all oxygen. He was saying: ‘Do you want a bit?’ I think we did have a quick whiff.” It wasn’t long before they did get inside the Palace of course. In October of ‘65 in fact, when they went there to receive their MBEs.
Aside from Cliveden House, it’s said the woodlands area of the Astor estate was used for Help! too. The scene in the film where The Beatles appear in a spoof cinema-ad (or, ‘intermission’ as they called them back then) was, I’m informed, shot on a spot known as ‘Bluebell Wood.’ Blink and you’ll miss it though:
As it turns out, Cliveden House had been used for film-location shoots years prior to Help! In 1952, its exterior was shot for the movie ‘The Card’ starring Alec Guinness, and, since 1965, the residence and/or its grounds has been seen in the TV drama series ‘Mr. Selfridge,’ the 1966 British comedy flick ‘Carry On Don’t Lose Your Head,’ 2004’s ‘Thunderbirds,’ and the 2015 ‘Disney’ outing ‘Cinderella’ – to name some. McCartney returned there too. Sometime during 1969/’70, he and his then new wife, Linda, would venture off out of the hustle and bustle of London and the pressures of Beatledom to find solace in quieter surroundings, such as Cliveden. In 1942, the main residence was donated to the cultural preservation organisation the ‘National Trust’ by the Astors although the family continued to live there until 1966 after which, the gardens were opened to the public. “We would go on visits to places like Cliveden, where Linda photographed me with Heather, Linda’s daughter, who became our daughter,” McCartney recalled in 2008.
Somewhere else where McCartney chose to unwind during the 1960s was the ‘Ad Lib,’ a nightclub in London said to have been one of the city’s celebrity hang-outs during the early to middle part of that decade. Christine Keeler was also a regular there. It became a favourite haunt of hers in the years directly after the Profumo scandal when, in Britain, her face was just as famous as any Pop musician of the day. “Ever since the Profumo affair, I have never known if a man was capable of loving me for not being Christine Keeler,” she states in her autobiography ‘Secrets and Lies.’ “It’s like being an heiress except I had inherited the flotsam of folly rather than a fortune. It meant I never had to buy a drink at the Ad Lib club, which became the centre of my social life. It was loud and popular and everybody seemed to be someone or was trying to be.” It was there, in 1965, that Keeler says she got up close and very personal with Ringo Starr. “I kept going to the Ad Lib and one night ended up dancing with Ringo,” she claims in Secrets and Lies. “The Fab Four were the biggest thing in the world and we were great curiosities on the dance-floor. Which is why we ended up in bed together the next morning…” Christine’s boyfriend at the time, a guy by the name of Freddy who, incidentally, was a nephew by marriage to Charlie, older brother of the dreaded Kray twins, walked in on Ringo and Keeler as they were in bed together that morning. “If it had been anyone else but a Beatle I think he might have bashed Ringo about,” she’s claimed. “As it was, he was so taken aback when he saw it was Ringo in bed with me that he did nothing, just stood there gawping. Ringo made a break for it – and broke my banister as he went.”
In the years just prior to her death, Keeler had been, we’re told, living in hard times. The huge amounts of money earned from newspaper stories back in the day reportedly all gone, she was said to be residing in sheltered accommodation in South London.
Mandy Rice-Davies fared far better. After Ward’s trial, she accepted an offer to sing in German cabaret and took up with a half-Italian, half-French baron by the name of Pierre Cevello. Later, she moved on to Israel and married businessman Rafael Shaul. Together they opened ‘Mandy’s Discotheque,’ which is said to have become the centre of nightlife in one of the country’s largest cities, Tel Aviv. The two eventually divorced. During the 1980s, she appeared in a number of movies including 1986’s ‘Absolute Beginners,’ a film that also starred David Bowie. In 1994 she played a guest-role in an episode of the hit UK TV sitcom ‘Absolutely Fabulous.’ She got wed again in the 1980s, this time to Ken Foreman, a wealthy businessman and she lived a life of luxury in the English stockbroker belt. Mandy died in 2014 from cancer. She was 70 years old.
As for John Profumo… Just weeks after he’d appeared in front of the House of Commons and denied any “impropriety” with Keeler, he resigned as a cabinet minister, admitting that he’d in fact lied to Parliament about his relationship with her.
Given that many of the official documents on the Profumo scandal have never been released to the public and remain locked away, it’s no surprise that there’s questions, speculation and theorising as to what actually went on. Was Stephen Ward a spy, and if so, for whom? The KGB? MI5? Both? Or neither? Was he – as many believe – a scapegoat – a patsy – for those high up in the echelons of power and control? And if he was, what was it that the Establishment was (and is) hiding from us by throwing him to the lions? I can’t help thinking that, perhaps, we’ll never know, even when some of the secret official documents will have their embargoes lifted in decades from now (and that many of us reading this in 2018 won’t be around to see then). One thing’s for sure, the prominent characters within the Profumo scandal were largely made up of tenants of a small world that’s closed off to ordinary, everyday folk. A world inhabited by figures in politics, the aristocracy, and royalty. Sharing it with them were Keeler, Ward, as well as The Beatles and the likes of ‘slum landlord’ Peter Rachman, and Lennon’s friend, Michael X who, let’s not forget, has reportedly had his official file embargoed until 2054. You do have to wonder why. As Ian Clement, the co-director of the previously mentioned movie ‘The Bank Job’ has said, “what the hell was so important that ‘they’ don’t want it known about?” The robbery occurred at ‘Lloyd’s Bank’ in London’s Baker Street, approximately just one mile from Cavendish Square, the location of Ward’s osteopathy practise and about 0.6 miles from his flat in Wimpole Mews, and where the gun incident occurred with Keeler and Johnny Edgecombe. Small world indeed. Just a three minute walk from this apartment is Wimpole Street where the Asher family lived back then. Paul McCartney moved in there in 1963 sharing the abode with his then-girlfriend Jane, her brother Peter, and the parents, Margaret and Richard who was an eminent doctor and who for a time was a consultant physician at the mental observation ward at the Central Middlesex Hospital in London. He also authored a paper in the 1950s titled – interestingly – ‘Respectable Hypnosis.’ In it, he reveals that “I have used hypnosis as an ancillary method of treatment in general medicine… I have devoted one out-patient session a week to it. From this experience I am learning a little about its use and limitations.” It’s been alleged that Richard was involved in secret MK ULTRA-type experiments with widely reported ‘Tavistock Clinic’ psychiatrist Emanuel Miller, and the notorious ‘brainwasher’ Dr. William Sargant. This is according to an anonymous claimant on the previously mentioned website, ‘Beatles Conspiracy.’
With regards to Asher and Ward, there’s no documentation or evidence to suggest in any shape or form that they knew each other or ever met, but it’s possible that they did given that they were both medical men living and working within close proximity of each other. As you may be aware, Richard, same as Stephen, also died prematurely as a result of “suicide.” I won’t go into it too much here, but the circumstances surrounding his death are, to me, a bit odd. Reported missing by his family in 1969, his dead body was discovered a week later in, of all places, the basement of their Wimpole St. home.
According to a quote on the popular website ‘Aangirfan,’ Ward “was involved in the Monarch mind-control programme, designed by the security services to create mind-controlled politicians, assassins and sex slaves. The prostitute Christine Keeler often said that ‘Ward controlled her.’” I have absolutely no idea how accurate (or true) this allegation relating to Ward’s connections to MK ULTRA and his ‘handling’ of Keeler are, but it’s perhaps worth noting that she did carry some possible tell-tale signs of Monarch mind-control. For a start, she’d been sexually abused as a child, by her stepfather. Or so she claimed. In Secrets and Lies, she states, “when I was 12, mum had to go to hospital for a couple of weeks. My dad tried to kiss me.” He had some ointment that “he managed to rub… onto my breast, as I had a cold. He asked me to run away with him… as he didn’t love my mother. I never told my mum, but I was terrified and slept with a small knife under the pillow from then on. And I never got over that fear of him… ” Ward, if we’re to believe what’s been alleged, groomed Keeler, ruled her life. When he first met her, she was still a teenager, a working showgirl from a tough, cash-strapped background. He took her on and introduced her to powerful, influential and famous figures for sex.
To illustrate further just how close in vicinity some of the characters in this article lived and/or operated within, here’s a ‘Google Map’ (accompanied by my crude handiwork) of the small walking distance from Baker Street where the Lloyd’s bank job took place (top left-hand side), to (further to the right) Wimpole Street the home of the Ashers, and next to it, Wimpole Mews where Ward had a flat. Cavendish Square, the location of Stephen’s osteopathy practise, is at the bottom of the map…
Meanwhile, the Ashers’ Wimpole St. home is just 2.7 miles from the Tavistock Clinic. ‘Tavistock House’ is 1.2 miles away, and the ‘London School of Economics’ is 1.7 miles from their house.
Just how entwined was this small world that linked Christine Keeler, Stephen Ward and Bill Astor and members of the British royal family to Michael X, and, The Beatles? Was it loose and random, a community made up of pure chance, or was there some design to it? Many reading this will no doubt suspect there was a purpose behind it and that it wasn’t accidental.
The popular blogger Henry Makow, in a 2008 article titled ‘Profumo Affair Exposed Masonic Control,’ opines, “Stephen Ward was an Illuminati agent whose job was to undermine the Conservative Government to make way for Harold Wilson’s Labour Party. Most likely the ‘Profumo Affair’ was planned and staged.” Well, if that’s true, consider it like this… Assume that the open sexual permissiveness and all the other liberal ideals and lifestyles that came after the Profumo affair, first with the ‘swinging Sixties’ and then the so-called ‘Hippie’ movement – and underpinned all the way by The Beatles whose fame rocketed in the immediate wake of the scandal – was always intended to be just one of the aims? Is it coincidence that the band’s rise from virtual unknowns in 1962 to national household names across Great Britain during 1963 coincided almost in unison with the simmering, then bubbling, then explosion into mass consciousness of the Profumo affair? It dissipated and fizzled out fairly soon enough whilst John, Paul, George and Ringo rose ever higher, taking with them in their role as representatives of the new Sixties generation, the values and motifs that it stood for, such as the ‘swinging’ sexual permissiveness that Keeler and Rice-Davies have been attributed with introducing to the mainstream culture of that decade. Now, working on the assumption that this was design and not accident, changes would have to have been made in order for it to have all been able to happen in the first place of course, and by that I mean events and situations would have to have been orchestrated and/or manipulated. People would have to have been moved around, such as the elderly figures of Harold Macmillan and Alec Douglas-Home who were classed as the old guard of a Britain past.
It would’ve been essential, perhaps, to have Macmillan and Douglas-Home conspired out of action so that they could then be replaced by the younger, media-savvy Harold Wilson, who schmoozed publicly with The Beatles and was Prime Minister when they received their MBEs… This was, maybe, an earlier, black & white and unrefined version of what future Labour PM Tony Blair would adopt in the 1990s for his ‘Cool Britannia’ phase when he courted the likes of Noel Gallagher of Oasis at No. 10 Downing Street.
In order to herald in to 1960s mainstream culture the, as Mandy-Rice Davies described it, “vanguard” movement of free love, one would need a Wilson to sell it, not an old fogey like Macmillan who during that time was being lampooned by Britain’s new and burgeoning political satirists including comedian Peter Cook and the magazine he financed, ‘Private Eye.’ Was this part of the plan too? As its then-editor said in a 1989 TV documentary, “the satire boom was really very much based as a kind of personal attack on Macmillan who’d been Prime Minister for a long time and had developed into this sort of almost caricature figure… And he was a kind of a focus for mimics and all this kind of thing.” As an interesting side-note, Jane Asher is a share-holder of Private Eye. Additionally, Emanuel Miller, the Tavistock psychiatrist who’s alleged to have participated in MK ULTRA-type experiments with the actress’s dad, was the father of Jonathan Miller. He was a co-member of the 1960s satirical comedy-group ‘Beyond the Fringe’ alongside Dudley Moore, Alan Bennett, and, of course, Peter Cook. Furthermore, just like his father before him, he’s a fully-qualified doctor, and who trained under, would you believe it, Richard Asher. This is indeed a small world, and with eyebrow-raising connections to mind-control and social-engineering perhaps.
Was it possible that hidden forces conspired to bring down the Conservative government in order to replace it with a Prime Minister equipped with the ability to assist in the ushering in of a counter-culture of mind-bending/damaging drugs, occult literature, philosophies and art, and the breakdown of old family values? I don’t know. Having casually perused the history of Wilson’s tenure as PM in the 1960s, I‘m not convinced this was the case… but I wouldn’t rule it out either. If there was such a plot, then it’s highly likely The Beatles would have been factored into it, with or without their knowledge. As for their associations with Cliveden House, Bill Astor, Keeler and her acquaintance Michael X (via Peter Rachman)?… Whether all or some of these connections were merely down to pure chance – the random result of living in a small world, or, on the other hand, hints of some sort of cabal hidden away from plain view and intent on bringing about mass social change? … Well, because I’m unable to locate an answer, I’ll leave that question hanging… Make of it all what you will.
Documentary: ‘Sex, Lies & A Very British Scapegoat’
Documentary: ‘The Scandal Story’ (1989)
YouTube: ‘RACHMAN HOUSES – SOUND’
BBC Radio 4 documentary: ‘The Real Rachman – Lord of the Slums’
‘Days in the Life. Voices from the English Underground. 1961 – 1971.’ Jonathon Green (1988)
‘There’s a Riot Going On.’ Peter Doggett – pgs 328, 331, 332, 333, 392, 393, 524
‘The John Lennon Letters’ – Edited by Hunter Davies. pg 248
‘New York Times’ news-report, May 17th 1975: ‘Militant Is Hanged by Trinidad After Long Fight for Clemency.’
‘The Glasgow Herald’ newspaper, May 3rd 1969: ‘Dr. Richard Asher Found Dead.’