Profumo Affair: Tory MP at centre of scandal had long-term relationship with Nazi spy, new documents reveal

John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959: PA
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959: PA

He was the Tory minister famously forced to resign from government over a 1960s sex scandal involving a 19-year-old model who was also close to a Soviet military officer.

But newly declassified files have revealed that the affair he gave his name to wasn’t John Profumo’s only dubious liaison.

According to MI6 records, the MP also had a decades-long relationship with a glamorous Nazi spy named Gisela Winegard.

Winegard, a fashion model, worked for German intelligence in Paris during the Second World War and may have later tried to blackmail Profumo.

The pair reportedly first met at Oxford in the early 1930s. In a 1950 memo, British intelligence officers said the relationship had begun in 1933 and appeared to have “not ceased” at the time of the report.

Profumo is said to have sent the German spy love letters written on House of Commons notepaper. Her husband, Edward Winegard, said the “endearing letters” caused him and his wife to separate in September 1950. They later got back together.

According to the MI6 documents, Winegard had been on “intimate terms” with a Nazi official in Paris in 1938 and travelled across Europe, including to Italy and Greece, providing secret information to the Nazis in Paris during the Second World War.

She is also said to have been the mistress of, and had a child with, a senior Nazi officer before being imprisoned for espionage when the Allied forces liberated Paris in 1944.

Edward Winegard was one of her US Army jailers and the pair married when she was released.

Profumo, who wed the actress Valerie Hobson in 1954, was forced to resign as Secretary of State for War and as an MP in 1963 after revelations about his relationship with model Christine Keeler.

Keeler was reported to also be romantically involved at the time with Yevgeny Ivanov, an official at the Soviet embassy in London, raising fears that nuclear secrets may have been compromised – a suggestion both the MP and the model denied.

Profumo had initially denied any impropriety in his relationship with Keeler but was later forced to admit to the affair.

The Stratford-upon-Avon MP and his wife had met Keeler during a party at Lord Astor’s country estate at Cliveden.

At the height of the scandal, MI6 sent files to MI5’s investigations head, Arthur Martin, about Profumo’s relationship with Winegard, whose maiden name maiden name was Klein.

In the documents, MI6 officer Cyril Mackay wrote: “Although it is not particularly relevant to the current notorious case, Geoffrey thought you might like to have for your files the attached copy of a report from our representative (redacted), dated 2nd October 1950, which makes mention of an association between Gisela Klein and Profumo which began ca 1933 and had apparently not ceased at the time of this report."

The MI6 documents also reveal that Winegard had an application for a UK visa rejected in 1951. At the time, security services believed the Winegards had “"recently engaged in blackmail activities and now think it possible their intended visit to the UK may be connected with this".

The application for the six-week visa named Profumo as a reference.

After resigning as an MP, Profumo dedicated his life to charity work and was awarded a CBE in 1975. He died in 2006, aged 91.