Victoria (Vickie) Barrett was born in Birmingham in 1943. After leaving school she moved to London where she lived with a friend. For a while she worked in a café. However, in August 1961 she was arrested in Bayswater and charged with "soliciting for the purpose of prostitution". After spending two days in Holloway Prison she returned to her parents' home in the Midlands.
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 once again 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."
Up to this moment in the trial the general feeling in court had been that although there could be little doubt that Ward was a habitual associate of prostitutes there had been little in the way of evidence to justify the charges of living on their immoral earnings, which, when all was said and done, was why we were here; and the impression on the Press benches that this was really a political trial, an instrument of revenge by the Establishment for the scandal caused by the exposure of Profumo, was growing all the time.
But with the calling of the name of Vickie Barrett this changed. For she was the witness for whom we had been waiting, the girl whom Mr. Griffith-Jones had said in his opening speech had visited Ward's flat for a period of over two months to give sexual comfort and stimulation to a variety of men for money which she had never received. Would her performance in the witness-box bear out the promises that Mr. Griffith-Jones had made of her? If it did, then as surely as the coming of night the jury would find, and rightly find, Ward guilty.
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. Christine and Mandy and even Ronna Ricardo had had a certain style, a kind of robustness, which compensated for their other deficiencies, but this little waif had nothing. She was like a little sad, sick elf, a photograph, as Rebecca West later put it, from a famine relief fund appeal. Clearly no improving influences had come to grace her life, no Professor Higgins had taken her under his wing : she was, in officers' mess parlance, a ten bob knock in the Bayswater Road. I looked at her standing so awkwardly in the witness-box, and then I looked at Ward, intelligent and sophisticated, in the dock, and I found it difficult to reconcile the two.
Mervyn Griffith-Jones: On arrival did he take you into the flat?
Vickie Barrett: Yes.
Mervyn Griffith-Jones: Was there anybody in the living room?
Vickie Barrett: No.
Mervyn Griffith-Jones: What did he say to you?
Vickie Barrett: I asked him where the man was.
Mervyn Griffith-Jones: What did he say?
Vickie Barrett: He said he was waiting in the bedroom.
Mervyn Griffith-Jones: Yes.
Vickie Barrett: Well then he gave me a contraceptive and told me to go to the room and strip and he said he would make coffee.
Mervyn Griffith-Jones: Did you go into the bedroom?
Vickie Barrett: Yes.
Mervyn Griffith-Jones: Was there anyone in the bedroom?
Vickie Barrett: Yes, a man.
Mervyn Griffith-Jones: Where was he?
Vickie Barrett: In bed.
Mervyn Griffith-Jones: Dressed in anything?
Vickie Barrett: No.
Mervyn Griffith-Jones: Did you go to bed with him?
Vickie Barrett: Yes.
Mervyn Griffith-Jones: Did you have sexual intercourse with him?
Vickie Barrett: Yes...
Mervyn Griffith-Jones: Was anything more said, while you had coffee, about money?
Vickie Barrett: Yes, Ward said it was all right. He had already received the money.
Mervyn Griffith-Jones: Did he say how much he had received?
Vickie Barrett: No.
Mervyn Griffith-Jones: Did you agree to him keeping it for you?
Vickie Barrett: Yes.
Having arrived at the address I telephoned the office and was told that Dr. Ward had died. I then returned to the adjoining house, No. 35, and saw Vickie Barrett in a room on the upper floor about 4.30 p.m. 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. She sat down and read the letter and remained for some moments silently crying. She looked at me and said: "It was not lies". After a few more moments of silence I told her that Dr. Ward had consistently maintained that she was lying in her evidence against him. She told me that her evidence was the truth.
After another silence I asked her how she came to be a witness in the case. She told me she had been interviewed by two police officers after she appeared at Marylebone Magistrate's Court on a soliciting charge on July 3rd. I would add that it was I who mentioned the date by asking her if it was the day when Dr. Ward was committed for trial. She said she had heard Dr. Ward was in another court on the same day. I asked her why they had interviewed her. She said she had been arrested for soliciting in Notting Hill late the previous night and police at Notting Hill had taken possession of her handbag and its contents including a diary. She said Dr. Ward's telephone number was in the diary. She said that the handbag and its contents had been returned to her after her appearance in the court. I asked her how the police officers had known about the diary. She said she assumed Notting Hill Police station had told them about it. I asked her if she still had the diary. She said that a week after her appearance at Marylebone the police officers had asked her if they could have her diary and she had handed it to them. She said that it had not yet been returned to her though she had seen it when she appeared at the Old Bailey.
At this point in our conversation her landlady came into the room and gave us each a cup of tea. The landlady asked if we would like her to stay. I asked Vickie Barrett if she would like her to stay. She declined the offer and the landlady left. After another silence Vickie Barrett began sobbing violently. She suddenly looked up at me and said: "It was all lies. But I never thought he would die. I didn't want him to die." At this point her whole body was shaking and convulsed with sobbing. She then said: "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." I reminded her she had said that she had whipped men there and that Dr. Ward had been handing out contraceptives. She said that it was not true that he had done this. I asked her why she had given evidence that was untrue. She said she had told one of the police officers when he had asked her what she had known about Dr. Ward, that she was a friend of his and had visited the flat two or three times a week to do business with him. She said: "I told him that I had whipped Dr. Ward at the flat. He said: `Wouldn't it be better if you said you whipped other men at the flat?' I said : Why should I say that? He told me that if I didn't say that, I will never be able to show my face in Notting Hill again. He said that girls could get very heavy sentences for soliciting." I asked her if the police officer had mentioned how long a sentence. Miss Barrett said "He said I could get nine months or more".
All this time she was crying and clutching the photograph copy of the letter in her hand with a cigarette burning between her fingers. As it was burning close to her fingers I took it away from her and stubbed it out. She began sobbing violently again and said "I didn't want him to die. I never thought he would die." As she seemed so upset I put my hand on her arm and told her to drink some tea. After another silence I asked her if she was telling me the truth. She said that she was. I repeated this question several times and each time she said she was telling the truth. I told her that if she was now telling me the truth it was a very wicked thing to have done. She said: "Yes, and I did it". I told her that what she had just told me was a very serious accusation against two police officers. She said she knew that but she had told the truth.
She said: "I will now get into trouble won't I?" I said : "Perhaps but you are only 20 and if what you say is true the fault was only partly yours". She said: "They will send me to prison". I said: "I don't think they will do that. Ronna Ricardo also said that she had lied in her evidence and she has not been sent to prison." I asked Miss Barrett if she knew Miss Ricardo. She said she had never seen her before they were both at the Old Bailey.
I then told Miss Barrett that I would take her to Dr. Ward's solicitor, Mr. Wheatley, and she agreed to come with me. I told her that if she had lied at the Old Bailey she must now tell the truth. She said she realised that. I told her that I did not think that any harm would come to her because she had told the truth. She said she would go to her room to powder her face, which she did. While she was away I telephoned Mr. Wheatley and told him I would be bringing her round if he was agreeable. He said that he was. While I was telling him on the telephone that Miss Barrett had lied at the Old Bailey the landlady came out of her room and went to the room next door where Miss Barrett was. A few moments later the landlady came out and said that Miss Barrett was not going anywhere with me and was very upset and was not seeing anybody. The landlady said: "I told her I had just heard you telling someone on the telephone that she had said she had told lies. She (Barrett) said he is telling lies" (meaning me, O'Brien).
I then telephoned Mr. Wheatley and he said he would come round. When he did so the landlady said Miss Barrett would not see him. The landlady said that Miss Barrett had telephoned one of the police officers and he was coming round. The landlady said: "I hope we are not going to have another suicide". I told her that she should stay with Miss Barrett and impressed on her the importance of doing so if she was ~ worried about her. Mr. Wheatley and I then left and he told me that I ought to make a statement to Superintendent Axon at Scotland Yard. We called at my office on the way to Scotland Yard and the News Editor of the Sunday Telegraph asked a colleague of mine to accompany me. I did not make any record of my conversation with Vickie Barrett while it was in progress. I have given an account of her conversation to my office and she signed no (repeat no) statement. I did not tell Vickie Barrett I would be going to the police or tell her to do so.