Top Ten political affairs

Written by Ray Filar on 11 April 2013 in Culture
What’s politics without a little juicy scandal now and again? Total Politics looks back on the sexual revelations that rocked the House and the world

This article is from the April 2013 issue of Total Politics

Secretary for war John Profumo had an affair with model Christine Keeler in 1963, while she was allegedly also seeing a Soviet spy. At the height of the Cold War, the liaison was highly damaging to the government. After lying during questioning in the Commons, Profumo was forced to resign.

Edwina Currie and John Major

Former minister Edwina Currie revealed in her Diaries Volume I (1987–92) that she and John Major, then a government whip, had had a four-year extramarital affair. The revelation hammered a nail into the coffin of Major’s ‘Back to Basics’ morality campaign.

John F Kennedy and Marlene Dietrich

Marlene Dietrich said the president had made “a clumsy pass” at her during a visit to the White House two months before his assassination. Kennedy has also been connected to a string of other lovers, including Marilyn Monroe and socialite Mary Pinchot Meyer.

David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell

Last year, David Petraeus resigned as CIA Director after admitting an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. The admission was forced; the FBI had uncovered the relationship while investigating a cyber-stalking case involving Petraeus’ friend Jill Kelley. Broadwell was later revealed as the stalker.


Named after male model Norman Scott’s dog, shot dead by a hitman, ‘Rinkagate’ concerned the allegation that Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe conspired to have Scott murdered. Jeremy Thorpe and his co-defendants were acquitted. However, Scott claimed he and Thorpe had had a two-year affair during the early 1960s.

Mark Oaten and male sex workers

In 2006, the News of the World claimed married MP Mark Oaten had had liaisons with male sex workers, alleging his participation in coprophilia and a threesome. Midway through the Lib Dem leadership race, the home affairs spokesman was forced to resign from politics.

Silvio Berlusconi’s ‘bunga bunga’ parties

‘Bunga bunga’ became a household phrase after Berlusconi’s sex parties were revealed to the press. Groups of women, including escort Patrizia D’Addario (pictured), were allegedly paid to attend the 74-year-old prime minister’s parties, to strip and engage in sex acts. Berlusconi faces charges over paying for sex with a minor.

Iris Robinson and Kirk McCambley

Democratic Union Party MP and evangelical Christian Iris Robinson had an affair with 19-year-old Kirk McCambley in 2010, while struggling with severe depression. She also allegedly asked friends to invest financially in McCambley’s café business. Her husband, Ulster first minister Peter Robinson, forgave her for the affair.

Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky

The most notorious political affair in recent years dominated international headlines and led to President Clinton’s impeachment. The 22-year-old White House intern had sexual encounters with Clinton on nine occasions. He denied it, uttering the famous statement: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

David Blunkett and Kimberly Quinn

During his time as home secretary, Blunkett had a three-year affair with married American journalist Quinn. Disputes over the parentage of her two children ensued. When DNA tests showed that he was the father of her first child, he petitioned the courts for legal access.

Tags: Issue 57, Life, Political affairs

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