IT was a very public scandal that helped bring down a Conservative government.

60 years ago the 'Profumo affair' was a major scandal in British politics.

In Skipton, the town's long standing Rector, and Archdeacon of Craven, the Venerable Arthur Sephton devoted most of his column in the July 1963 parish magazine to the scandal, condemning the morals of some and urging his flock to 'grasp upon the better things of life' if society was  'not to go to pieces completely'.

John Profumo, the married Secretary of State for War in Harold Macmillan's Conservative government had been having an affair with the 'model' Christine Keeler.

In March 1963, after the affair had been ongoing for two years, and following much speculation, he denied the relationship in a statement to The House of Commons, but weeks later a police investigation proved that he had lied.

Mr Profumo resigned from the government on June 5 1963, a disgraced man.

The scandal severely damaged the credibility of Mr Macmillan's government, and he resigned as Prime Minister in October, 1963, citing ill health.

Just a few weeks earlier, Mr Macmillan had been in Bolton Abbey, for August's grouse shooting season, staying at the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire's Bolton Hall.

The Craven Herald at the time reported how the Prime Minister had been staying at Bolton Hall for a week and during that time had had an 'informal meeting' with leading Conservatives of the area.

The group included Skipton MP Burnaby Drayson, representatives of the Women's association of Conservatives, young Conservatives and David Nelson of Gledstone Hall.

The Herald reported how Mr Macmillan, who was usually 'out on the (glorious) Twelfth' had been delayed in his visit because of a visit to Scandinavia.

He was however in 'excellent spirits'. On one day, a party of 12 guns, including the Prime Minister, travelled from Bolton Hall to Black Park between Barden and Eastby.

Mr Macmillan wearing a brown tweed half plus four suit, which he said he had had since 1927, and a tweed cap, faced a 'battery of cameramen when he alighted from the car'.

The following year, in 1964, the Conservatives were defeated by Labour at the general election.

What increased the public's interest in the Profumo affair was that Miss Keeler may have been involved at the same time with a Soviet naval attache, so introducing a possible security risk.

60 years on and the current Conservative government is facing it's own difficulties with former Prime Minister Boris Johnson resigning after an investigation found he had 'misled' parliament.

Craven's Archdeacon in 1963, the Ven Arthur Sephton, who was also Rector of Skipton, was not impressed with Mr Profumo and the public's great interest,  and he made it abundantly clear.

Writing just after Mr Profumo resigned, in the July edition of the parish magazine the affair was his main topic.

The Archdeacon castigated the media for it's interest, while devoting hundreds of words to the topic.

"During the first half of June, our newspapers, the television and radio did their utmost to tell us every possible detail of every possible implication of the Profumo affair," wrote the Rector.

"All this publicity is defended because it is said to be in the public interest.

" This is just as much humbug as any which made good copy from the whole miserable business.

"Why cannot we behave like intelligent persons who have some principles and some morals and therefore demand that our papers, radio, books and entertainments shall not forget that we are grown up?"

He continued: "In 1963 we ought to be able to be amusing or witty or interesting without such questionable taste.

"There is no occasion to throw stones at anybody, but we might use the unhappy occasion to take stock of our own grasp upon the better things in life which are vital if our society is not to go to pieces completely.

"Christians know from their long history that good morals cannot last without a true and well practised religion to maintain them. Leaders of public opinion and of society cannot afford to forget this.

"One could wish that magistrates, schoolteachers police officers and all parents would do far more to encourage and uphold the best standard of behaviour both by example and precept.

"Invariably, when church people take a stand they are 'narrow minded'.

"When a catastrophe occurs through someone's moral lapse, no one wants to shoulder the blame.

"There is very much unhappiness and misery around us, caused entirely by people themselves who defy the moral and social laws and scorn the help of religion to unravel their domestic tangles.

"Let us respect and treasure our religion and let us use it to help keep up the best standards of behaviour at home and then wherever we are called up on to go.

"The best things in life have always to be cared for and paid for - and not by cash."

The rector then moved on to the more mundane subject of cleaning in and around the church "Most of you were conspicuous by your absence, or we could have done so much more which needs to be done," he said.

One wonders just what the Rector would have thought of Boris Johnson, not to mention social media.