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Ronna Ricardo: Another American Connection to the Profumo Case

John Simkin

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Ronna Ricardo was a prostitute andwhen she was arrested by the police in April 1963 she agreed to give evidence against Stephen Ward. At the Ward committal proceedings, she provided evidence that suggested that he had been living off her immoral earnings. She quoted Ward as saying that it "would be worth my while" to attend a party at Cliveden. Ricardo claimed that she visited Ward's home in London three times. On one occasion, she had sex with a man in Ward's bedroom after being given £25.

Ricardo told Ludovic Kennedy that the police interviewed her nine times in order that she gave a statement that provided evidence that suggested that Ward was living off immoral earnings. Ricardo confessed to another researcher, Anthony Summers that: "Stephen didn't have to ponce - he was dead rich, a real gentleman; a shoulder for me to cry on for me, for a long time." Ricardo also told Summers that Chief Inspector Samuel Herbert, who was leading the investigation of Ward, was one of her clients.

Two days before Ward's trial, Ricardo made a new statement to the police. "I want to say that most of the evidence I gave at Marylebone Court was untrue. I want to say I never met a man in Stephen Ward's flat except my friend 'Silky' Hawkins. He is the only man I have ever had intercourse with in Ward's flat. It is true that I never paid Ward any money received from men with whom I have had intercourse. I have only been in Ward's flat once and that was with 'Silky'. Ward was there and Michelle."

It later emerged that Ricardo decided to tell the truth after being interviewed by Tom Mangold of the Daily Express. "There were two strands running through the thing, it seemed to me. There was some sort of intelligence connection, which I could not understand at the time. The other thing, the thing that was clear, was that Ward was being made a scapegoat for everyone else's sins. So that the public would excuse them. If the myth about Ward could be built up properly, the myth that he was a revolting fellow, a true pimp, then police would feel that other men, like Profumo and Astor, had been corrupted by him. But he wasn't a ponce. He was no more a pimp than hundreds of other men in London. But when the state wants to act against an individual, it can do it."

The trial of Stephen Ward began at the Old Bailey on 22nd July 1963. Roona Ricardo, was one of the prosecution witnesses, gave evidence on the second day of the trial. Ludovic Kennedy, the author of The Trial of Stephen Ward (1964) commented that unlike Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies "she made no pretentions about not being a tart." Kennedy added "She had dyed red hair and a pink jumper and a total lack of any sort of finesse".

While being cross-examined by Melvyn Griffith-Jones Ricardo claimed she had told untruths about Stephen Ward in her statement on 5th April because of threats made by the police. "The statements which I have made to the police were untrue. I made them because I did not want my young sister to go to a remand home or my baby taken away from me. Mr. Herbert told me they would take my sister away and take my baby if I didn't make the statements."

As Mandy Rice-Davies pointed out: "When Ronna Ricardo, who had provided strong evidence against him at the early hearing, came into court she swore under oath that her earlier evidence had been false. She had lied to satisfy the police, that they had threatened her, if she refused, with taking her baby and her young sister into care. Despite the most aggressive attack from Mr Griffith Jones, and barely concealed hostility from the judge, she stuck to her story, that this was the truth and the earlier story she had told was lies." As Ricardo later told Anthony Summers: "Stephen was a good friend of mine. But Inspector Herbert was a good friend as well, so it was complicated."

Ludovic Kennedy commented: "Ricardo was clearly in a state of terror at what the police might do to her for having gone back on her original evidence. After the trial she seldom stayed at one address for more than a few nights for fear the police were looking for her."

Ricardo eventually travelled to the United States where she married her American airman lover, Silky Hawkins. In an interview she gave to Anthony Summers she claimed: "In Washington I was dragged into the offices of the CIA, and they said they knew all about me, from the cops in England." Ricardo was told that "her departure would be the best for all concerned."

Ricardo returned to London where she once again became a prostitute. She was interviewed by the authors of Honeytrap in 1987: "She has three children, all half-castes, and by different fathers. She is dramatically overweight, and by her own admission - is still on the game, on a part-time basis."


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