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Profumo scandal's Mandy Rice-Davies dies at age of 70

By Gavin Cordon

Mandy Rice-Davies - one of the women at the centre of the Profumo affair which rocked Harold Macmillan's Tory Government in the 1960s - has died.

Miss Rice-Davies - known by her married name of Marilyn Foreman - died aged 70 after a short battle with cancer.

Along with Christine Keeler and society osteopath Stephen Ward, she was a key figure in the 1963 sex scandal, which almost brought down the Conservative administration of the time.

A nightclub dancer, she gained notoriety when in the witness box of the Old Bailey she dismissed a denial by Lord Astor that he had slept with her, saying: "Well, he would, wouldn't he?"

The lurid disclosures of high-society sex parties and claims that the Secretary of State for War John Profumo had shared a mistress - Keeler - with a Russian defence attache enthralled and scandalised early 1960s Britain.

Following revelations that Profumo had lied to the House of Commons about his affair with Keeler, his Larne-born wife Valerie Hobson stood by him, and they worked together for charity for the remainder of her life.

She died in 1998 at the age of 81. He died, aged 91, in 2006. Profumo, who was subsequently forced to resign in disgrace, was said to have been introduced to showgirl Keeler through Ward during a party at Lord Astor's mansion at Cliveden.

When the scandal erupted Ward was charged with living off the immoral earnings of Keeler and Rice-Davies - a move seen by many as an attempt by the Establishment to make him the scapegoat for the whole affair.

It was at his trial at the Old Bailey that Rice-Davies made her famous remark.

Many years later Lord Astor's wife denied that there had been any affair, but Rice-Davies always stuck to her story. "What was Bill doing? I didn't seduce Bill. I didn't even flutter an eyelash at him. I wasn't a temptress. He seduced me. In those days, women did not leap upon men," she said.

In the years that followed the trial she continued to live the high life, dancing, acting, writing and marrying three times.

She later said she wished the events of 1963 which established her reputation so vividly had never happened.

"The only reason I still want to talk about it is that I have to fight the misconception that I was a prostitute. I don't want that to be passed on to my grandchildren. There is still a stigma," she said.

Last year she attended a Press conference supporting the launch of a book claiming Ward, who took an overdose of sleeping tablets on the last day of his trial and was found guilty while in a coma, was innocent.

A spokesman for the Hackford Jones PR agency said: "It is with deep sadness that the family of Marilyn Foreman, also known as Mandy Rice-Davies, have confirmed that she passed away after a short battle with cancer.

"They have asked for their privacy to be respected and no further comment will be made."

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