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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 May, 2003, 23:37 GMT 00:37 UK
MPs hail 'rebel' Profumo
By Paul Rowley
BBC political correspondent

A Tory outcast at the centre of a sex scandal 40 years ago has been hailed as "gallant and honourable" by MPs for his actions during World War II.

The former War Minister John Profumo was forced to resign from the Cabinet for lying to the House of Commons over his affair with call girl Christine Keeler.

John Profumo
Profumo has dedicated himself to charity work

His departure in 1963 signalled the downfall of the Conservative Government, which lost the general election the following year.

But in a Commons motion, five MPs pay tribute to John Profumo, saying the country owes him "a huge debt of gratitude" for voting against his party in 1940 over the "appeasement" deal with Germany by the then Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.

Mr Profumo is the last surviving rebel from the Commons debate.

The MPs, led by former Labour Minister Frank Field, say John Profumo's actions in defeating the government helped unseat Chamberlain from office, leading to Winston Churchill taking over at Downing Street.

They say the move ensured "the survival of this country" leading to victory by the allies in 1945.

Churchill's grandson, the Tory MP Nicholas Soames, has also signed the motion.

Shunned

Frank Field is also leading a campaign to get the Prime Minister to reinstate the Privy Counsel status Mr Profumo gave up when he resigned - a move backed by the present Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith.

Since his exit from politics, John Profumo, who is now 88, has devoted himself to charity work, being awarded the CBE in 1975.

But for many years he was shunned by colleagues, some of whom blame him for the Tories decline in the 1960s.

The other MPs to sign the motion were: Labour's Gwyneth Dunwoody and Kate Hoey, plus Tory Keith Simpson.




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