sex scandals

   In London on 2 November 1960, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, the long-banned novel by D.H.Lawrence, was cleared of a charge of obscenity by an Old Bailey jury. In many ways the trial pitted an old Britain against the new; it was not only a case of what was considered literature but of the direction of national morality. In 1963 John Profumo, the Secretary of State for War, resigned after allegations of a sex scandal involving ministers, prostitutes and Russian spies. The Profumo Affair was the biggest crisis in the Macmillan government; the two key protagonists responsible for this political upheaval were Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies. In 1976 Jeremy Thorpe resigned as Liberal leader, after weeks of Westminster gossip about allegations of a homosexual relationship; the following year, the story of the obsession of Joyce McKinney for a young Mormon missionary was the leading story in the British press, and during the final months of 1977 it was impossible to buy a newspaper or turn on the radio or television and not read or hear about McKinney. She was granted bail and escaped to America, dressed as a nun.
   In October 1983, Cecil Parkinson, chairman and architect of the Conservative election victory in June, resigned from the Cabinet following revelations of an affair with his secretary, Sara Keays. Unlike Macmillan with Profumo, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher supported Parkinson and appointed him Trade and Industry Secretary, thus demonstrating the vastly different attitude to issues of morality. Conservatives in the mid-1980s were prepared to handle the Parkinson sex scandal, through a renunciation of Miss Keays and the saving of the marriage of the disgraced minister. Thus, the party which put the family first kept its conscience clear. Unfortunately, when the news became public knowledge, Parkinson was unable to continue in government.
   The major scandal of the 1980s and 1990s involved members of the British royal family. The publication of DianaHer True Story by Andrew Morton in 1992 ended a century and a half of Royal reserve on personal matters, replacing it with indulgent exhibitionism. By 1993 the book had sold nearly five million copies worldwide.
   See also: monarchy
   Further reading
    Cassell, D. (1998) The Book of Modern Scandalfrom Byron to the Present Day, London: Orion.
   FATIMA FERNANDES

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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