The Daily Telegraph

Christine Keeler is being reframed – about time

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The redemption of Christine Keeler, who died in 2017 aged 75, continues. An exhibition of paintings seeking to reclaim her, entitled Dear Christine, opens this week in Newcastle and will continue on to Swansea and London. Keeler was the female protagonis­t, or victim, at the centre of the 1963 scandal that brought down Harold Macmillan’s government. She had affairs with John Profumo, the secretary of state for war, and a Soviet naval attaché.

Profumo, who was eventually forced to admit that he had lied about the

affair to the Commons, did ostentatio­us penance cleaning lavatories in the East End, and was later invited to Margaret Thatcher’s 70th birthday party and honoured by the Queen. Stephen Ward, the society osteopath who used Keeler, an abused child, for his own social advancemen­t, had a failed musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber devoted to him and was the subject of a book by Geoffrey Robertson QC called Stephen Ward Was Innocent, OK.

Keeler, meanwhile, was hounded by the media and chased out of menial jobs until she became a recluse. “It’s been a misery for me,” she said. She became a punchline and “a dirty joke”.

So this exhibition is timely. I like to think that a 46-year-old government minister who seduced a vulnerable 19-year-old would not be so easily forgiven now.

She was chased out of menial jobs and became a recluse

 ??  ?? Scandal: the vulnerable 19-year-old showgirl met society osteopath Stephen Ward in 1959
Scandal: the vulnerable 19-year-old showgirl met society osteopath Stephen Ward in 1959

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