Greville Wynne

Greville Maynard Wynne (19 March 1919[1] – 28 February 1990) was a British businessman famous for his involvement with, and imprisonment as a result of, the espionage activities of Oleg Penkovsky.


Wynne was an electrical engineer, trained at the University of Nottingham. Later he went into business, traveling frequently through Eastern Europe.

In November 1960, Wynne was recruited by MI6 and asked to make a sales trip to Moscow,[2] where he made contact with Oleg Penkovsky, a high-ranking GRU officer. This was done in response to Penkovsky’s earlier offers to spy for the West.[2]

Wynne later became an intermediary and courier for Penkovsky, smuggling top-secret Soviet intelligence back to London during his frequent trips to the USSR.[3]

Wynne and Penkovsky’s espionage activities were eventually discovered by the KGB. Both men were arrested in late 1962, around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis.[2] Penkovsky was sentenced to death.

Wynne was convicted of spying on 11 May 1963 and sentenced to eight years in prison. He was held in harsh conditions, and in April 1964, amid concerns for his deteriorating health,[2] Wynne was released in exchange for the Soviet spy Konon Molody.[4]

Following his release, Wynne returned to his business career but struggled with alcoholism and depression.[4] Wynne died of throat cancer at Cromwell Hospital in London on 28 February 1990, aged 70.[5]

Questions over prior work

Later in life, Wynne wrote two books about his work for British intelligence: The Man From Moscow (1967) and The Man From Odessa (1981). In these books, Wynne claimed to have been recruited by MI5 as early as World War II, long before his work with Penkovsky.

However, historians question this account. The authors of The Spy Who Saved the World wrote, “He [Wynne] had no previous intelligence experience or training.”[2] Others have made similar assessments, stating that Wynne was a civilian at the time of his recruitment by MI6 in 1960.[3][4]

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