Mandy Rice-Davies, key figure in UK 1960s sex scandal, dies aged 70

Fri Dec 19, 2014 6:02am EST
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LONDON (Reuters) - Mandy Rice-Davies, a former model who was at the center of one of Britain's biggest political sex scandals - the 1960s Profumo Affair - has died aged 70 after a short battle with cancer, her publicist said on Friday.

Rice-Davies lived with Christine Keeler, who had simultaneous affairs with Britain's then Minister of War John Profumo and a Soviet naval attaché, a potential Cold War security breach which rocked the then Conservative government of Harold Macmillan.

The 1963 scandal, which led to Profumo's resignation and disgrace, attracted widespread public interest as lurid details of the ménage à trois emerged.

It also produced one of British legal history's most memorable courtroom ripostes when Rice-Davies took the stand at the trial of Stephen Ward, the man who brought Keeler and Profumo together, who was being prosecuted for living off immoral earnings.

Rice-Davies was told that another establishment figure, Lord Astor, had denied her claims that he had been having sex with her.

"Well, he would say that, wouldn't he?" she responded cheekily.

Unlike Keeler, who faded into relative obscurity after the affair, Rice-Davies maintained a regular presence on London's social scene. She wrote her autobigraphy "Mandy" in 1989 and made several television appearances in later years.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison)