19:54, September 08 301 0 theguardian.com

2017-09-08 19:54:03
Case of Profumo affair's 'pimp' will not go to court of appeal

Stephen Ward, the society fixer at the centre of the Profumo affair, will not have his conviction reviewed by the court of appeal.

The Criminal Case Review Commission (CCRC) told Ward’s family on Friday they will not be sending the osteopath’s 1963 conviction for appeal as they cannot find an original transcript of the judge’s summing up.

The CCRC said on Friday that its investigation found no evidence the prosecution was politically motivated. But it accepted that if Ward were still alive they could have “been minded to refer the case to the court of appeal”.

In their letter to Michael Ward, Stephen’s nephew, they said prejudicial reporting, flawed direction from the judge and Christine Keeler’s previous perjury would render the conviction unsafe.

The Ward family maintains the judge’s summing up was biased and prejudiced the jury.

Geoffrey Robertson QC, representing the family, said in a statement: “The Ward trial was an appalling manipulation of justice by police, politicians and judges caught up in a moral panic. It is mysterious – suspicious, almost – that every copy of the transcript of the wretchedly biased summing up has gone missing.

“I’m glad the CCRC accepts that the verdict would probably be quashed today. But I do not accept its argument that over the 54 years since Dr Ward’s trial there have been significant improvements in police and media practice – just look at the witch-hunt against Ted Heath and Lord Bramall, after the recent moral panic over Jimmy Saville.

“Incredibly, the government still maintains this censorship over historical truth, about a prosecution that was really a persecution.”

Ward was convicted of being a pimp after it emerged that he had introduced model Christine Keeler to the minister for war John Profumo at a party in the grounds of Lord Astor’s Berkshire mansion at the height of the Cold War.

Keeler had also been involved with Russian naval attache Yevgeny Ivanov and the revelation that one of the most senior ministers in the government had almost compromised state secrets for the sake of an affair threatened to topple Harold Macmillan’s Conservative government.

Profumo had been warned off Ward’s circle by spies who knew of Soviet links to the socialite’s set. But when Keeler’s love life came to light all eyes turned to Ward as the link between the model, the minister and the Soviet.

He was tried on a charge of living off the earnings of prostitution and after the judge’s summing up he took his own life before a guilty verdict was handed down.

Ward’s family insists that he was a scapegoat for an establishment keen to deflect media attention from the failings of its own ministers.

A CCRC spokesman said: “In relation to the submissions that the trial was politically motivated and therefore an abuse of process, and that the court of appeal concealed relevant information, the CCRC has concluded that, in spite of having gone to considerable lengths to access all surviving relevant material, the available records provide no evidence to support those claims. Those submissions therefore do not give rise to a real possibility that the court of appeal would overturn Ward’s conviction.

“During the course of the review, however, the CCRC did identify considerable merit in a number of other issues which might, arguably, provide grounds upon which we could refer the case for appeal.

“The principal issues in that regard were the subsequent conviction for perjury of the prosecution witness Christine Keeler and the possibility that contemporaneous media coverage of the case may have prejudiced Ward’s trial. The commission agrees with Ward’s representatives that there is considerable force in the argument that these matters could affect the safety of the conviction.”

However, the CCRC said it was using its discretion not to refer the case, saying there was no public interest after 54 years and it could bring no personal benefit to Ward so long after he had died.