An Unlikely Spy

The Observer – 'Pendennis' 07-11-1993

Whitehall must be ruing the day in 1973 when it first asked the Midlands' businessman Paul Henderson to do a little informal spying on its behalf on his many trips around Eastern Europe and Iraq. The rattled bureaucrats are now likely to regret it still more.

The eponymous author of An Unlikely Spy and former managing director of Matrix-Churchill, has just sold the film rights to his tale of alleged betrayal by MI6 and government departments to the independent film-makers Robert Chatsworth. Henderson, not satisfied it seems by the daily spectacle of ministers, mandarins and spy-masters squirming in their seats at the Scott Enquiry, may now get the chance to embarrass them still further.

Lord Justice Scott seeks to discover whether there was Whitehall skullduggery and a conspiracy to have Henderson sacrificed, prosecuted and nearly gaoled for exporting machine tools with military applications to Iraq when nearly all concerned seem to have known perfectly well what they were intended for – the film risks blowing many more secrets. Trial by television indeed.

Will the filmmakers reveal the location of the ultra-secret intelligence headquarters over-looking St James's Park where Henderson briefed MI6's analysts on Saddam Hussein's arms manufacturing capability? Will they show the methods and techniques of MI6's operatives? Will they go to the Lubjanka in Moscow where Henderson was grilled by the KGB?

"Well, it's a little early to say," says producer David Croft. "But why not? If we can use original locations we shall, though it all depends on the budget which may nevertheless be a £1 million or more."

Location shoots in Iraq itself might present problems, he concedes, but with "Live Aid" and a production of "Acting in Film with Michael Caine" under his belt, anything seems possible.

Caine to make a come-back as the betrayed spy, perhaps?

"Um... probably not," says Croft.

© (1993) Christopher Long. Copyright, Syndication & All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
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