London's infamous sex scandals

Thursday 24th March 2016

As our capital city, London is home to politicians, celebrities, royals and the elite echelons of society, so it's hardly surprising that they're often embroiled in sex scandals that both shock and titillate the general public. From MPs to singers, soap stars to royalty, there's always a new story hitting the headlines. Here's a juicy selection of the most salacious scandals that have rocked and shocked London in recent years.

Sex, politics and espionage - the story of John Profumo and Christine Keeler

Possibly the most scandalous event of last century, 1960s swinging London will be forever linked with the affair between John Profumo and Christine Keeler, particularly as Profumo happened to be the Tory War Secretary at the time. Married MP Profumo met Keeler at a pool party at Cliveden, the Buckinghamshire mansion owned by Lord Astor. He was completely unaware that Keeler worked as a topless dancer and model, or that she was also sleeping with a Soviet Embassy employee and spy called Eugene Ivanov. 

During the 60s, together with America, we were right in the middle of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, therefore when the FBI found out about this entanglement they launched a full investigation to determine whether any of the people involved were acting as spies. Although Profumo initially denied the relationship, it ultimately led to his resignation. However, that wasn't the end of the story, as Keeler was also involved with an osteopath and socialite called Stephen Ward, who was also acting has a pimp. Ward was later prosecuted for procuring prostitutes, resulting in him taking his own life via an overdose on the day he was due to stand trial. Amidst all this, reports of sex parties involving naked men in gimp masks, reputed to be members of the cabinet, came to light, just to add an extra level of debauchery to the whole proceedings. Following the revelations, Prime Minister Harold Macmillan also resigned.

Of course, as a result of this notoriety Keeler reached celebrity status, and was famously photographed sitting naked astride a chair. However, she was also sentenced to 9 months in prison after being charged and found guilty of perjury during the trial of Stephen Ward.

The infamous Kray twins supplied rent boys to members of Parliament

The 1960s also saw a scandal involving the Conservative MP Lord Boothby, who was well known for having a voracious sexual appetite. Of course, you have to remember that homosexuality was illegal at this time, and so Boothby used infamous gangster Ronnie Kray to discreetly procure young rent boys for his fun. However, it seems that these antics were not as discreet as they should have been as The Mirror newspaper heard about this and went ahead to publish a story which they hoped would humiliate the Tories. They later had to retract their story following revelations that Labour MP Tom Driberg was in a relationship with 'Mad Teddy' Smith and was also caught up with Ronnie Kray.

Harold MacMillan who was Prime Minister at the time, advised Boothby to sue the Mirror and he was later awarded an out-of-court settlement of £40,000. Furthermore the paper's editor was sacked and the newspaper was forced to issue a formal apology. It also made other reporters a little more reluctant to reveal what they knew about Boothby and his cronies, and it allowed the Kray twins to continue their rule over London for several more years.

MP, Ron Davies, caught cruising on Clapham Common

It seems that politicians have a habit of becoming caught up in sex scandals. In 1998, Ron Davies resigned as Welsh Secretary of State following what he termed a 'moment of madness'. His moment of madness proved to be inviting a stranger he'd met on Clapham Common, a well known gay cruising site, into his car in the middle of the night. Far from just some naughty fun, Davies ended up being mugged at knifepoint, and although he's never admitted what actually went on that night, he did reveal that he was bi-sexual. While this one incident might have been forgotten, Davies then went on to fuel the fires of speculation when it was revealed by the Sun newspaper in 2003 that he'd taken part in gay sexual acts with a builder in another well known cruising spot, Tog Hill, outside the city of Bath. Although he claimed that he'd just been watching badgers, the Labour party put pressure on him to stand down.

The Royal Triangle: Charles, Diana and Camilla

Members of the aristocracy and the Royal Family in particular have had their fair share of sex scandals. Back in the mid 90s Prince Charles' affair with Camilla Parker Bowles was in full flow, and the Prince's conversations with his lover were recorded. One such conversation in 1993 involved Charles confessing that he wished that was Camilla's tampon! While all this was going on, Diana was finding solace in the arms of her current lover, surgeon Hasnat Khan and, according to her former butler Paul Burrell, Khan was smuggled in and out of Kensington Palace curled up in the boot of a car.

The hunt for the Duchess of Argyll's headless lover

It seems that members of the aristocracy love to live dangerously. In 1963, the Duchess of Argyll, Margaret Campbell was photographed with a Polaroid camera giving her lover a blowjob at her home in Mayfair. This began a hunt for the mystery 'headless man', and became the current topic of conversation during her divorce.

Did Boy George really have to hurt him?

It's not just politicians who bear the brunt of having their sex lives revealed to the public. Celebrities such as 80s singer Boy George have also provided plenty of fodder for the tabloids. Back in 2007, Boy George (real name George O'Dowd) was summoned to appear in court charged with falsely imprisoning Norwegian male escort Audun Carlen in his flat. O'Dowd is said to have manacled Carlsen to a wall and then whipped him with a metal chain, before Carlsen managed to escape, fleeing into the streets of Shoreditch, almost naked, bleeding and screaming for help. The singer received a jail sentence of 15 months, although he apparently only served 4 months in prison.

Careless whispers out George Michael

Another well known singer, ex-Wham member George Michael was caught cottaging in an a Los Angeles toilet in 1998. Ten years later, he reprised his public 'outing', this time getting caught in a Victorian public toilet not far from Hampstead Heath, when he was arrested for possessing crack cocaine.

Eastenders' star, Gillian Taylforth, caught in flagrante just off the Al

Even our favourite soap stars have been known to get caught with their pants down. While Gillian Taylforth, Kathy from Eastenders, might have remained fully clothed, she was caught in flagrante by a passing policeman as she gave her partner, Geoff Knights, oral sex while parked on an A1 slip road. Taylforth claimed that she was merely rubbing Knights' stomach and the two of them recreated the scene in a high court car park shortly after they sued The Sun newspaper for libel.

While Dirty Den reveals himself on cam

Leslie Grantham, who played Dirty Den Watts in Eastenders, was no stranger to controversy. Shortly after he joined the cast of Eastenders it was revealed that he'd served time in prison for murdering a West German taxi driver. Despite this revelation he went on to become one of the most famous stars of the show. However, his fans got a little more than they'd bargained for when Grantham was caught on webcam in 2004 by an undercover reporter. Apparently he was naked and aroused while making suggestive sucking actions on his finger. He was also a regular on MSN Messenger, using the alias 'kwanertoo' which is, as everyone knows, an anagram of 'wanker too'! During these sessions he also dressed up as Captain Hook, and revealed that he had sexual fantasies which involved animals.

Boris Becker scores an ace and gains a daughter

Sports stars are not immune either. Famous Wimbledon champion Boris Becker hit the headlines once again in 1999 for an entirely different reason after it was discovered that he'd had sex with Russian model Angela Ermakova in a broom cupboard in London's upmarket Nobu restaurant. The story wasn't quite true, the incident took place on some stairs, but what is true is that Ermakova informed Becker eight months later by fax (remember those?) that he had an illegitimate child. While Becker tried to deny the claim, a DNA test proved game, set and match that he was indeed the father of Ermakova's child. His daughter, Anna, is now set to follow in her mother's footsteps with a modelling career of her own.

Lady Chatterley's Lover still has the ability to shock

And finally, some of our most famous writers are causing scandals all of their own. Never mind 50 Shades of Grey, back in 1928 DH Lawrence was shocking readers all over the capital and further afield with his novel, Lady Chatterley's Lover. Using a four letter word fourteen times (yes it has been counted) that even now, many find disgusting, the book ended up banned in Britain until it became the centre of a landmark freedom of speech case at the Old Bailey. Finally Penguin won the right to publish the work uncensored in 1960 and the infamous novel sold 200,000 copies in a single day.