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Last Updated: Monday, 20 March 2006, 16:10 GMT
Thatcher among Profumo mourners
John Profumo's coffin is carried from St Paul's Church
Hundreds of mourners attended the London service
Politicians including Baroness Thatcher were among the 250 mourners at the funeral of former Conservative cabinet minister John Profumo.

The Queen's representative Lord Evans of Temple Guiting was also among the congregation at St Paul's Church in Knightsbridge, London.

Mr Profumo resigned in 1963 after an affair with call girl Christine Keeler and then worked tirelessly for charity.

Described in church as "not a saint but a hero", he died on March 9 aged 91.

Charity role

He resigned as war secretary at the height of the Cold War after lying to MPs about his affair with call girl Christine Keeler.

It emerged Ms Keeler had also been involved with Commander Yevgeny Ivanov, a Soviet intelligence officer and assistant naval attaché in London.

Baroness Thatcher
Baroness Thatcher was among the politicians who attended

The scandal was the catalyst for the subsequent defeat of the Tory government, after 13 years in power, in 1964.

After the "Profumo affair" he worked for decades at Toynbee Hall, a charity which looks after the needs of the poor and deprived people of the East End of London.

At his funeral, childhood friend Lord Blakenham, told mourners a helper at Toynbee Hall said of Mr Profumo: "Everybody here worships him. We think he is a bloody saint."

Lord Blakenham continued: "Well, he was not a saint, but he was a hero. And when a balanced history of 20th Century Britain is finally written, I have no doubt that he will be regarded as such.

"Jack carried his health, his dignity, and his modesty into old age."

His fall from grace... has been well documented as has his subsequent dedication and length of service to the community
Lord Blakenham

Lord Blakenham told the congregation how Mr Profumo had met his future wife at the Chelsea Arts Club 1947 New Year's Eve ball.

"Valerie was dressed as Madame Recamier in a ball gown borrowed from her studio. Jack was dressed as a policeman and went up and arrested her for improperly parking her car."

But he said it was not until seven years later that they finally married, "the beginning of a life-long romance".

Money raised

He made only a passing reference to the Christine Keeler episode.

"His fall from grace... has been well documented as has his subsequent dedication and length of service to the community at Toynbee Hall, a charity set up in the 1880s to help support people in need in the east end of London."

John Profumo on a trip to a scout centre. Picture courtesy of Toynbee Hall
Profumo dedicated four decades to charity work

Lord Blakenham spoke of the "remarkable things" Mr Profumo achieved there, including raising money to rebuild the Toynbee properties and the pushing forward of the establishment of a Workers Education Centre for Asian and African immigrants.

"The warden told me that in his view Toynbee would not now exist if it was not for Jack Profumo."

Mr Profumo's son David read an extract from The Whitsun Weddings by Philip Larkin.

Also among the mourners were former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith and his wife Betsy, former Conservative Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington, Baroness (Shirley) Williams and former Tory minister Jonathan Aitken.

Former Fleet Street editor Sir Max Hastings, Channel 4 newsreader Jon Snow, and many staff from Toynbee Hall attended.

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