If you’re old enough to remember the Profumo Affair then either you were there in the 60s, or you have seen the dramatisation of it in the film starring John Hurt, who plays the osteopath Steven Ward.
The reason I’m mentioning it is for two reasons. Firstly, a book has just been published which categorically states that Steven Ward was an innocent man. Secondly, it was the event that really put osteopathy on the map of healthcare, being the proof of the expression “any publicity is good publicity”. An osteopath was charged with treason, and so everyone learned about osteopathy… but the word ‘osteopathy’ was remembered long after the affair was forgotten.
You can read all about the Profumo Affair on Wikipedia or you can watch the film. But in short, Profumo who was the Secretary of State for War in Macmillan’s government in the early 60s. He had an affair with Christine Keeler, who was also having an affair with a russian spy, Yevgeny Ivanov at the same time. Thus, state secrets could be passed through ‘the pillow’, as it were… and when it was all revealed it was a terrible scandal, being the height of the cold war. The ramifications were enormous.
Sadly, in an act of self protection on the part of the government, the blame was put onto Dr Steven Ward, “society’s osteopath”, who regularly held parties for the rich, famous and influential, many of whom were patients. Ward essentially introduced Keeler to Profumo, and thus was accused of treason… tragically he hanged himself in his holding cell before the trial.
When the Official Secrets Act was lifted from all the documents about the affair, it was proven that Ward was an innocent scapegoat.
Here’s what the Express have written about it today: The scapegoat of the John Profumo scandal, and the Telegraph yesterday: The Profumo Affair: ‘It was decided that Stephen Ward had to die’.
A very sad story I feel.