The Magazine

Spy Mystery Solved

His name was Wynn. Arthur Wynn.

May 4, 2009, Vol. 14, No. 31 • By ALEXANDER VASSILIEV, HARVEY KLEHR and JOHN EARL HAYNES
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While the evidence we have uncovered does not answer the question of how many spies the KGB recruited at Oxford or how much information they turned over, it does provide the identity of "Scott," that enthusiastic recruiter who offered so many names to Theodore Mally. A memo from Pavel Fitin, head of the KGB's counterintelligence service to Vsevolod Merkulov, head of the KGB in July 1941, noted:

"Scott" is Arthur Wynn, about 35 years old, member of the CP of England, graduated from Cambridge and Oxford univs., radio expert, design engineer for the Cossor Co. Recruited in Oct. 34 by "Stephan" from "Edith's" lead.

("Stephan" was Mally and "Edith" was Edith Tudor Hart.)

Wynn had actually come under MI5 suspicion in the 1960s when Wright had interviewed Jennifer Hart. She had identified Wynn as briefly her link with "Otto" and noted that Wynn had been a close friend of Edith Tudor Hart. But when Wright had suggested that Wynn be offered immunity and a security clearance for a proposed senior position at the Board of Trade if he provided a full account of his relationship with the Soviets in the 1930s, his MI5 superiors dropped the investigation, fearing scandal from the suicides incident to the Oxford ring investigation.

Arthur Henry Ashford Wynn was born January 22, 1910. His father was a professor of medicine, and Wynn was educated at Oundle School and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied natural sciences and mathematics. He was in Germany in 1933 when Hitler came to power. According to one of his close friends, he married a young German communist activist to enable her to escape--just as Kim Philby had done for an Austrian communist. The marriage of convenience did not last long.

He was divorcing his wife when he fell in love with Peggy Moxon, who was a student communist at Oxford. They married in 1938 and had three sons and a daughter. Wynn received a law degree from Lincoln's Inn in 1939 and intended to practice with Sir Stafford Cripps, a leading left-wing politician expelled from the Labour party in early 1939 for advocating a popular front alliance with communists and anti-appeasement liberals and conservatives.

The advent of war changed Wynn's plans, and he went to work on advanced navigational aids for the RAF's Bomber Command. His employer, the Cossor Company, had converted to war production in 1939 and worked on the early development of airborne radar. Following the Labour party's nationalization of the mines in 1948, Wynn became a bureaucrat in the Division of Fuel and Power, specializing in mine safety, and continued to hold positions on government boards and commissions in that area through the 1960s. In the 1970s, his interests turned to family policy and maternal nutrition. Together with his wife, he produced a series of books and papers with both academic and political import. Wynn died at the age of 91 on September 24, 2001.

There is no indication of when or if Wynn ever repudiated his secret allegiance. Likewise, we have no idea how long he remained in contact with Soviet espionage after Fitin's July 1941 report. Nor is it clear whether the shutdown of the KGB's illegal station in 1939 as a result of the purges aborted the creation of an Oxford ring that would have matched the creativity of the Cambridge ring. Intelligence agencies only reluctantly open their archives for researchers, and well-documented espionage histories are slow in coming. Nonetheless, one mystery, the identity of "Scott," the ambitious recruiter of British students, is now solved.

John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr, and Alexander Vassiliev's new book, Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America, will be published in May by Yale University Press.