Profumo was a well-educated and respected high Conservative cabinet minister. He was married to the actress Valerie Hobson. The scandal was his brief relationship with a showgirl named Christine Keeler. Profumo met her at a party at Cliveden in 1961 organised by the fashionable London doctor Stephen Ward. Their relationship lasted only a few weeks before Profumo ended it. Rumours about the affair became public in 1962 as did the apparently serious fact that Keeler had also had a relationship with Yevgeny "Eugene" Ivanov, an attache at the Soviet Embassy.
Profumo's mistake was to lie in the House of Commons. In March 1963 he claimed that there was "no impropriety whatever" in his relationship with Keeler. In June he confessed that he had misled the House, and resigned on the 5th. The government had an official report from Lord Denning on September 25, 1963. A month later the Conservative Prime Minister Harold Macmillan resigned, his ill-health exacerbated by the scandal, he was replaced by Earl Home as Sir Alec Douglas-Home.
Ward was prosecuted for living on immoral earnings and committed suicide in August. Keeler was found guilty on unrelated perjury charges and sentenced to nine months.
See also: Mandy Rice-Davies