The Denning Report (the Profumo Scandal), 26 September 1963

Terms of Reference:

To inquire into the circumstances leading to the resignation of the former Secretary of State for War, Mr J. D. Profumo.


Lord Denning


Establishment: 21 June 1963
Hearings: 49 days, starting on 24 June 1963
Report: Signed 16 September 1963, published 26 September 1963
Link to website and or download report:
Not available online.

Description of the events which caused the public concern:

Affair between the then Secretary of State for War, John Profumo MP, and Christine Keeler, a showgirl. Keeler was at the same time having an affair with a naval attaché at the Russian Embassy, Yevgeny Ivanov. When the story became public knowledge, Profumo denied any impropriety with Keeler in a statement in Parliament. He was later forced to admit that he had lied and resigned. There was a fear that Profumo had passed on nuclear secrets to Keeler who had in turn passed them to the Russians.


No litigation surrounding the inquiry itself. However, Dr Stephen Ward, an osteopath who had introduced Keeler and Profumo, was later prosecuted for living off immoral earnings. He was convicted by committed suicide before the judgment was announced. Keeler was jailed for nine months for perjury.

Summary of reports recommendations

He concluded that the primary responsibility for the scandal was with Profumo, for associating with Keeler and for lying to his colleagues. The greatest error was his false statement in the House of Commons. Lord Denning also concluded that the situation had been looked at in the wrong way by police, members of parliament and the security services: rather than asking if Profumo had committed adultery they should have asked if his conduct had led ordinary people to believe he committed adultery.

Any follow up bodies