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A spy born in this Chesterfield home humiliated the British secret service
26 Cromwell Road, in Chesterfield, where Spycatcher Peter Wright was born (Image credit: Brad Baker)

A spy born in this Chesterfield home humiliated the British secret service

Reading Time: 3 minutes

He worked for MI5

The life of James Bond seems locked into a world of cinema and fiction, but for a man born on this road in Chesterfield, the action and fast pace of Britain’s most mesmeric hero was very much a reality.

Cromwell Road is a normal residential street but halfway up the hill is a house with links to Cold War espionage and intrigue.

Former residents George Maurice Wright and his son Peter Wright were both spies.

The latter sent shockwaves through the UK government with the book Spycatcher which revealed that a high ranking intelligence officer worked for the KGB.

It sold two million copies around the world.

The memoirs were so scandalous that the British government attempted to block publication of them altogether, a move which proved unsuccessful and counterproductive, generating massive publicity.

A blue plaque is fitted to the right of the front door to commemorate the fact that the house was home to two spies.

George was an admiralty spy and Peter worked for MI5, following in his father’s footsteps.

Enjoy the Derbyshire countryside: Cromford Canal

The Spycatcher book made the senior intelligence officer a millionaire.

He wrote it in his retirement from the security services while raising horses on a farm in Tasmania.

The first attempt at publication was in 1985 but the British government got a court order banning publication in the UK. The book was still available overseas, however.
The ban helped fuel intrigue and generated publicity for the publication.

Peter began working for the intelligence services in 1949.

The Central Intelligence Agency in America sought his help over a bug which was discovered in a seal, presented to the US ambassador in Moscow, according to his memoirs.

Wright used technological and scientific methods to identify the concealed device.

The real achievements came, however, when he became aware that high ranking military officers were actually informants working for the Soviets.

He identifies a mole as being an MI5 director general, along with other people who may or may not have been informants.

It goes on to examine the history of MI5 and looks at a plot to assassinate President Nassar of Egypt.

Photo by Sergiu Nista on Unsplash

The book exposes the ethics of the intelligence services, and describes ways in which the secret service eavesdrops on dialogue in rooms.

Official MI5 historian, Christopher Andrew said the “Spycatcher case humiliated the British establishment, brilliantly.”
An obituary in The Independent stated “no British intelligence officer other than Kim Philby caused more mayhem within Britain’s secret services and more trouble for British politicians than Peter Wright”.

Peter Wright was born in August 1916 and passed away in April 1995.

The current homeowner of 26 Cromwell Road is Jonathan Cooper.
He said: “The plaque attracts quite a bit of attention and we are always happy to chat to people interested.”
“It wasn’t the first time we’ve had our door knocked on enquiry about the former occupiers.”

Credit for this article goes to Derbyshire Live. You can read the full article here

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