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Vickie Barrett: Are you still alive?


John Simkin
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I have been posting about the connections between the Profumo Affair and the JFK Assassination:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=12188

One of the key witnesses in the case against Stephen Ward was Vickie Barrett. There is virtually nothing about her on the web. I have therefore created a page on her and plead with her to come forward. She would be 66 years old today.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/SPYbarrettV.htm

Barrett worked in Birmingham for two years before going to live with Brenda O'Neil in London in January 1963. O'Neil had just been released from Holloway Prison after serving three months for prostitution. Two months later Barrett was charged with soliciting.

On 7th June, 1963, Christine Keeler told the Daily Express of her secret "dates" with John Profumo. She also admitted that she had been seeing Eugene Ivanov at the same time, sometimes on the same day, as Profumo. In a television interview Stephen Ward told Desmond Wilcox that he had warned the security services about Keeler's relationship with Profumo. The following day Ward was arrested and charged with living off immoral earnings between 1961 and 1963. He was initially refused bail because it was feared that he might try to influence witnesses. Another concern was that he might provide information on the case to the media.

On 14th June, the London solicitor, Michael Eddowes, claimed that Christine Keeler told him that Eugene Ivanov had asked her to get information about nuclear weapons from Profumo. Eddowes added that he had written to Harold Macmillan to ask why no action had been taken on information he had given to Special Branch about this on 29th March. Soon afterwards Keeler told the News of the World that "I'm no spy, I just couldn't ask Jack for secrets."

On 3rd July, Barrett was again arrested for soliciting. While being interviewed, Barrett claimed she knew Stephen Ward. She told the police that she was picked up by Ward in Oxford Street in January 1963. Barrett was taken back to his flat where she had sex with a friend of his. Afterwards, she said, Ward told her that the man had paid him and he would save the money for her. Over the next two and a half months, according to Barrett some two or three times a week, the same thing would happen. Barrett claimed that during this time, Ward never paid her any money for these acts of prostitution.

The trial of Stephen Ward began at the Old Bailey on 22nd July 1963. Rebecca West was one of the journalists covering the case. She described Barrett looking like "a photograph from a famine relief fund appeal." Ludovic Kennedy, the author of The Trial of Stephen Ward (1964) commented: "She came into the witness-box, a little whey-faced blonde, wearing a sort of green raincoat with a white scarf round her neck; and when she turned to face the court and while she was giving the oath, one's impression was one of shock; shock that Ward, whom one had believed to be a man of some fastidiousness in his tastes, had sunk so low. For of all the whores the prosecution had paraded or were still to parade before us this one was the bottom of the barrel."

At the trial Vickie Barrett claimed that Ward had picked her up in Oxford Street and had taken her home to have sex with his friends. Barrett was unable to name any of these men. She added that Ward was paid by these friends and he kept some of the money for her in a little drawer. Ward admitted knowing Barrett and having sex with her. However, he denied arranging for her to have sex with other men or taking money from her. Sylvia Parker, who had been staying at Ward's flat at the time Barrett claimed she was brought there to have sex with other men. She called Barrett's statements "untrue, a complete load of rubbish".

Christine Keeler claims that she had never seen Barrett before: "She (Barrett) described Stephen handing out horsewhips, canes, contraceptives and coffee and how, having collected her weapons, she had treated the waiting clients. It sounded, and was, nonsense. I had lived with Stephen and never seen any evidence of anything like that." Mandy Rice-Davies agreed with Keeler: "Much of what she (Barrett) said was discredited. It was obvious to anyone that Stephen, with the police breathing down his neck and the press on his doorstep, would hardly have the opportunity or the inclination for this sort of thing."

Stephen Ward told his defence counsel, James Burge: "One of my great perils is that at least half a dozen of the (witnesses) are lying and their motives vary from malice to cupidity and fear... In the case of both Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies there is absolutely no doubt that they are committed to stories which are already sold or could be sold to newspapers and that my conviction would free these newspapers to print stories which they would otherwise be quite unable to print (for libel reasons)."

Ward was very upset by the judge's summing-up that included the following: "If Stephen Ward was telling the truth in the witness box, there are in this city many witnesses of high estate and low who could have come and testified in support of his evidence." Several people present in the court claimed that Judge Archie Pellow Marshall was clearly biased against Ward. France Soir reported: "However impartial he tried to appear, Judge Marshall was betrayed by his voice."

That night Ward wrote to his friend, Noel Howard-Jones: "It is really more than I can stand - the horror, day after day at the court and in the streets. It is not only fear, it is a wish not to let them get me. I would rather get myself. I do hope I have not let people down too much. I tried to do my stuff but after Marshall's summing-up, I've given up all hope." Ward then took an overdose of sleeping tablets. He was in a coma when the jury reached their verdict of guilty of the charge of living on the immoral earnings of Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies on Wednesday 31st July. Three days later, Ward died in St Stephen's Hospital.

Ward's defence team found suicide notes addressed to Vickie Barrett, Ronna Ricardo, Melvyn Griffith-Jones, James Burge and Lord Denning: Barrett's letter said: "I don't know what it was or who it was that made you do what you did. But if you have any decency left, you should tell the truth like Ronna Riccardo. You owe this not to me, but to everyone who may be treated like you or like me in the future."

The letter was passed to Barry O'Brien, a journalist who worked for the Daily Telegraph. He later recalled: "We were alone in the room. I told her that Dr. Ward had died and that on the night he had taken the overdose he had written her a letter. I told her that I had a photograph copy of the letter with me and gave it to her. She was greatly shocked at learning Dr. Ward was dead."

O'Brien claimed that Barrett responded with the following words: "It was all lies. But I never thought he would die. I didn't want him to die. It was not all lies. I did go to the flat but it was only to do business with Stephen Ward. It was not true I went with other men." Barrett admitted that she had been coerced into giving her evidence by the police and agreed to go to see Ward's solicitor, then went to another room to get her coat. According to O'Brien, an older women who was living in the house came out, and said: "Miss Barrett was not going anywhere." Barrett later retracted her retraction.

Later, journalists attempted to interview Barrett but as Anthony Summers pointed out, she "was impossible to trace." Christine Keeler claims that Barrett "has never to my knowledge been seen again. I suspect she was spirited out of the country, given a new identity, a new life."

It was thought that the only photograph of Barrett was her in a car with Brenda O'Neil travelling to the Old Bailey in a car. Unfortunately, her face is covered by a newspaper. However, I have got hold of a photograph that was taken in 1963.

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