Profumo ‘had long relationship with Nazi spy’

John Profumo, the Tory minister forced to quit during a sex scandal in the 1960s, had a long-running relationship with a glamorous Nazi spy, records suggest.

Newly-declassified papers show evidence of a long relationship with German-born fashion model Gisela Winegard.

The two met at Oxford in the early 1930s before she worked for German intelligence in Paris during the Second World War, according to MI5 files published on Tuesday.

In 1963, at the height of the Profumo Affair, an MI6 officer wrote a letter to the MI5 and pointed out a previous intelligence report, dating to October 1950, which made “mention of an association between Gisela Klein and Profumo.

The relationship was believed to have begun at around 1933 and “had apparently not ceased” at the time of the 1950 report.

Undated handout photo issued by The National Archives of Gisela Winegard

Image: Undated handout photo issued by The National Archives of Gisela Winegard

The 1963 letter mentioned a rejected 1951 UK visa application by Mrs Winegard, whose maiden name was Klein.

Authorities thought she had “recently engaged in blackmail activities”, the letter says.

The papers do not say who they tried to blackmail but the visa application for a six-week “pleasure visit” listed Mr Profumo as a reference.

The records show that Mrs Winegard had been “on intimate terms with the German Military Attache in Paris” in 1938, leading the Home Office to say she be barred from Britain.

She ran a secret information service for the Nazis in Paris during the war and was said to have been the mistress of a high-ranking German officer, with whom she had a child.

After Paris was liberated by the Allies in 1944 she was jailed for espionage, her jailer being Mr Winegard – the two were married after he got her released.

She also caught the attention of the US Secret Service after the war when she was accused of harbouring a fugitive German spy chief while living in France.

Handout memo dated 19/6/1963 written by MI6 officer Cyril Mackay issued by The National Archives on John Profumo

Image: The memo from 1963 written by MI6 officer Cyril Mackay

Mr Profumo had told MI5 about her, admitting he had met her in 1936 and describing her as “always hard up”.

“Later she went on to become a mannequin (model) and made a large number of useful contacts.

“Lady Astor is alleged to have expressed the opinion that she was a spy.”

Mr Profumo was MP for Kettering from 1940 to 1945, and for Stratford-upon-Avon from 1950.

He was a British Army officer in World War Two and married actress Valerie Hobson in 1954.

While Secretary of State for War in 1963, he was implicated in the scandal that was to be his downfall: claims he had shared a mistress – Christine Keeler – with a Soviet defence attache.

He initially denied this but later resigned in disgrace.

Having left politics, he concentrated on charity work until his death in 2006, aged 91.