BACK in the 1960s, the British establishment was rocked to the core by a sex scandal that threatened to topple the government.
The Profumo affair – the subject of the current BBC drama The Trial of Christine Keeler – exposed a sex ring run by osteopath Stephen Ward, who procured teenage girls for influential men and arranged orgies in stately homes and London society addresses.
The scandal erupted in 1963, when it was discovered that 19-year-old Keeler had bedded John Profumo, then Minister of State for War, and Russian spy Yevgeny Ivanov in the same week.
Profumo was forced to resign after lying to the Houses of Parliament, and Ward — who has since been compared to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein – was arrested, but took his own life before he could come to trial.
While it remains the most infamous sex scandal to shake the political world in the last century, it is by no means the only one.
From the Jeremy Thorpe trial to the Jeffrey Archer prostitute allegations, we look at the many times sex and politics have proved an explosive mix.
Accidental fetish death
Stephen Milligan was seen as a rising star in the Conservatives when he was elected as Eastleigh MP in 1992 — but within two years, he was found dead in his flat with a bin-liner over his head and an orange in his mouth.
The 45-year-old’s body was found on his kitchen table by his secretary, Vera Taggart, who went to check on him when he missed appointments without explanation.
Milligan was completely naked except for a pair of stockings and suspenders, with a cord tied around his neck.
The coroner ruled that Milligan’s 1994 death was an accidental consequence of autoerotic asphyxiation — where a person strangles themselves for sexual pleasure.
Last year, reports suggested the MP’s bizarre death might actually have been a cover-up of a murder carried out by intelligence services over illegal arms sales.
Secret gay affair, murder conspiracy and a dead dog
The biggest scandal of the 1970s saw former Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe end up in the dock, charged with conspiring to murder his ex lover Norman Scott.
Former stable lad Scott claimed to have had an affair with the politician in the 1960s, when homosexuality was still illegal.
When the fling ended, and Thorpe married first wife Caroline Allpass in 1968, Scott threatened to expose him.
Thorpe, it was later alleged, enlisted friend Peter Bessell to silence Scott through bribes and threats.
When he continued to talk to others about his relationship, Bessell claimed he was told, “We’ve got to get rid of him… It is no worse than shooting a sick dog.”
Jeremy Thorpe was forced to resign in 1976 after a newspaper published a letter he had written to Scott.
Three years later, he stood trial after gunman Andrew Newton said he was hired as a hitman to shoot Scott.
He shot dead Scott’s Great Dane, Rinka, but his attempt to murder Scott was thwarted when the gun jammed, reports claimed.
Thorpe faced trial on charges of conspiracy and incitement to murder but was cleared of the charges in 1979.
Speaking in 2008, Thorpe said: “If it happened now I think the public would be kinder. Back then they were very troubled by it.
“It offended their set of values.”
But the sex dossier of 2017 wasn’t the only crisis to blight Theresa May’s cabinet.
A year later, married Minister for Small Business Andrew Griffiths resigned after it was revealed he’d sent over 2,000 extremely sexual texts to two barmaid constituents.
Griffiths reportedly sent the two women £700 and offered to rent them a London flat so they could meet up for sex.
The lewd texts included messages like: “I’m going to need something filthy to put a smile on my face. I want to see you both naked.
“Take off the bra and panties… you’ve got Daddy in such a frenzy.”
In another, he said: “Daddy is going to have to put some manners on you. Teach my little sub **** how to behave.
“I can be an evil ******** when I’m turned on. How rough do you like it? How hard?”
Imogen Treharne, one of the women Griffiths messaged, said the MP “didn’t want to speak to me about anything other than sex”.
She added: “I wanted him to be a nice guy, but by the end I felt dirty.”
Resignation over pregnant mistress
As Chairman of the Conservative Party, Cecil Parkinson was instrumental in gaining Margaret Thatcher a landslide victory in the 1983 election and it was rumoured that he would be rewarded with a post as Foreign Secretary.
But when the Prime Minister learned of a long-standing extramarital affair with his secretary, Sara Keays, who was pregnant with his child, he was given a lesser post as Trade and Industry Secretary.
A few months later, the affair became public and the married dad-of-three resigned from office. He was awarded a life peerage in 1992 and died in 2016.
Parkinson’s wife Ann stood by him through his bitter disputes with Keays over Flora, who was born with learning difficulties, and he never met his daughter.
Prostitute handed £2,000 cash and false alibis
In October 1986, Jeffrey Archer resigned from his position as Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party after it emerged he had paid £2,000 to vice girl Monica Coghlan, through an intermediary who had passed the cash to her on Victoria Station.
He then launched a libel case against the Daily Star, after they alleged he had sex with Ms Coghlan, which he strenuously denied.
Despite Coghlan describing his “spotty back” in court, Archer won the case after the judge told jurors to remember the “fragrance” and “elegance” of his wife Mary, asking, “Is he in need of cold, unloving, rubber-insulated sex in a seedy hotel… after an evening at the Caprice?”
Although he was awarded £500,000, Archer was later convicted of perjury when it emerged he had asked his friend Ted Francis to provide a false alibi.
He was sentenced to four years in prison in 2001.
The ‘Minister for Fun’ and the actress
In July 1992 it emerged that David Mellor – dubbed Minster for Fun due to his position as Secretary of State for National Heritage – had been having an affair with actress Antonia de Sancha.
The 43-year-old Conservative – who had been married for 18 years and had two children when their relationship was revealed – resigned and Sanchez, 31, then sold her story for £30,000.
Paddy Ashdown’s affair with his secretary, Tricia Howard, was revealed in her 1992 divorce papers and earned him the memorable nickname, coined by The Sun.
The Liberal Democrat admitted to the five-month fling, five years earlier, and said his wife Jane was aware of it.
Incredibly, rather than damaging his political career, the affair saw his poll rating increase.
Prime Minister’s affair
Sir John Major was mocked for being known as the “grey man” of British Politics because of a perception that he was boring.
But his reputation turned decidedly blue when, in 2002, it was revealed he’d had a four-year affair with another MP, Edwina Currie.
Currie’s diaries detailed the scandal, which took place between 1984 and 1988, when they were both married to other people and Major was working in Margaret Thatcher’s government.
The fling ended when Major was promoted to Chief Secretary of the Treasury, two years before he became Prime Minister in 1990.
Currie, who came fourth in the 2014 series of I’m a Celeb, said she was still in love with him for years after their romance, which she said only ended because: “We could not continue without risking discovery.”
Bombshell sex dossier
In the wake of the horrific allegations against Harvey Weinstein scandal in 2017, an explosive dossier was published online accusing British MPs of inappropriate sexual behaviour.
Six cabinet ministers were among 36 Tories accused in the shocking spreadsheet which was compiled by anonymous staff who’d worked for the party.
The shocking allegations included groping, harassment, forcing staff to have abortions and paying women to stay quiet.
Michael Fallon resigned as Defence Secretary after he admitted he’d inappropriately touched journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer’s knee.
And former Brexit minister Mark Garnier admitted admitted calling his secretary “sugar t*ts” and taking her to buy him sex toys in Soho.
Damien Green, who was the Deputy Prime Minister, resigned after police found “extreme” porn on his office computer, and he was accused of touching the knee of a young Tory activist.
The story also revealed that women working in Parliament used a “Westminster sex pest” WhatsApp group to warn each other about MPs with reputations for inappropriate sexual behaviour.
Allegations were also made against Labour Party staff, with activist Bex Bailey alleging that she was raped by a senior party official when she was just 19.
Bailey says she was later told by another senior member that reporting the incident might “damage” her career.