A new Hollywood blockbuster based on the life of the late Cold war British spy Greville Wynne, who retired to Majorca, is being produced starring Benedict Cumberbatch of Doctor Strange and Sherlock fame.
Wynne was a well known character on the island in the 1980s and at one stage invested in a garden centre just on the outskirts of Santa Maria. “He was a real character and very charming,” one British resident who know him, said yesterday.
He attracted plenty of interest in Majorca as a result of his career working for the British and U.S. intelligence services.
Wynne was an electrical engineer, trained at the University of Nottingham, and a businessman. He was recruited to MI5 just before World War II. He was transferred to MI6 and assisted with the 1959 defection of the Soviet intelligence officer, Major Kuznov.
He was an intermediary for the important Soviet spy Oleg Penkovsky, who was engaged in selling arms and weapons secrets to British intelligence. Penkovsky’s activities were revealed by Jack Dunlap, a double-agent working for the KGB. The KGB swiftly drew the conclusion that there was a mole in their ranks and set about uncovering him.
Wynne was arrested in Budapest and extradited to the Soviet Union. He was convicted of spying on 11 May 1963 and sentenced to eight years in prison; Penkovsky was sentenced to death and executed (although Wynne himself in his book ‘The man from Odessa’ claimed that Penkovsky committed suicide in prison). Wynne was released in exchange for the spy Gordon Lonsdale in 1964.
Wynne wrote about his time as a spy in a book entitled The Man from Odessa, first published in 1981. He preceded this book with The Man from Moscow: The Story Of Wynne and Penkovsky (1967) and published in the USA as Contact on Gorky Street: a British Agent’s Own First-Hand Account of His Mission to Moscow (1968). This was one of the early examples of a book being published about secret work that the government never expected to be made public.
Wynne died of throat cancer at Cromwell Hospital in London on 28 February 1990, aged 70 after moving back from Majorca.
Wynne was portrayed by David Calder in the 1985 BBC television serial Wynne and Penkovsky, and by Peter Lindford in the 2007 BBC Television docudrama Nuclear Secrets. He is portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch in the film Ironbark, now in production in the U.S. and Britain.