Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Romanian 'spy' ran off with repair man's wife, files reveal

An aspiring Romanian spy ran off with a TV repair man's wife, despite an impassioned letter by the wronged husband pleading for government help, secret files have disclosed.

The documents, released by the National Archives in Kew, highlight a desperate letter from Fred Donovan, of Colliers Wood, south west London, begging the Home Office for help getting his wife to return home.

Eunice Donovan had run off to Bucharest with Romanian former pilot Alexandru Ionescu in 1958, taking her three children with her.

Her husband's letter detailed his domestic woe, saying: "Mr Ionescu has stated he will not give up seeing my wife as long as she wishes to see him. My wife is so infatuated that she says she can't give him up although I have begged her to try and do so."

Ionescu, described in the MI5 files as a pilot of athletic build with tanned skin, had first come to Britain when he flew a Romanian delegation to the 1945 Youth Congress in London and had been approached by the NKVD - the forerunner of the KGB - to spy on Britain.

Unknown to the Russians however, Ionescu had already approached Britain asking to defect and had met a member of the famous Special Operations Executive, who considered using him as a double agent.

His spying career never really got going, as MI5 later found that Ionescu had been in contact with the British Communist Party and noted that he was: "An unstable self-interested type who is not likely to be of any use either to us or to the Russians."

He did however, prove rather more successful with Mrs Donovan. whom he met in 1956 when she began working in a cafe he owned. The pair soon started an affair.

The next entry on Ionescu's secret MI5 file is a heartbreaking letter from her husband, Mr Donovan of Mitcham, Surrey, in August of that year.

Mr Donovan did not appear to know that Ionescu had been interviewed by MI5 and wrote to the Home Office to plead with them to deport him before he finished his marriage for good, saying that Ionescu was living in a corrugated hut behind a house in Colliers Wood, South London.

Mr Donovan, who had been married for 15 years and had three children, said the Romanian had been "invited into my home, treated as a close friend, in fact one of the family" adding: "We have looked after him when he was ill. We have shared holidays with him. I was even considering purchasing a house jointly with him. My wife helped him of an evening, until recently, with a business he was running."

He said he had recently tackled his wife, about a "change in our personal relationship" adding: "She admitted that she was 'in love' with this other man and no longer had feelings for me and had stayed only for the sake of the children."

He said he had asked them to end the affair but: "Mr Ionescu has stated he will not give up seeing my wife as long as she wishes to see him. My wife is so infatuated that she says she cannot give him up although I have begged her to try and do so."

Mr Donovan said he felt he "not entirely blameless in responsibility for this situation" because he had been working late and "neglecting my wife to some extent."

"I admit this to myself and regret it sincerely but it had never been done deliberately - I have always loved my wife deep inside me and nothing can change that," he added.

He said his wife continued to see Ionescu for six evenings a week and pleaded: "I know you cannot be responsible for this man's morals – but his actions and behaviour are far more criminal and are liable to cause more human misery than even orthodox crime can cause.

"Please help me if it is humanly possible."

Despite the impassioned letter it appears there was nothing that could be done to help and the affair continued.

A note of a conversation between Lt Col John Baskervyle-Glegg of MI5 and Cpt Vearncombe in January 1959 noted that Mr Donovan's "small dance band" may have led to him neglecting his wife and that "Ionescu seemed to have plenty of money to spend and was able to run a car."

It said that on August 14 1958 Mr Donovan arrived home to find the house empty and some "continental train timings left about."

He had no further news from his wife and children until a telephone call two weeks before Christmas from the Hotel 7th November in Bucharest.

"Mrs D appeared to be distressed and expressed a wish to come home," the file said but Mr Donovan could not afford the air fare.


Anonymous said...

oh wowww poor guy- wife ran off with stranger, husband misses her terribly, she regrets it, he can't afford her trip home....
haha i thought this only happened in movies. lmao i feel so bad for him T-T

Anonymous said...

Great lil story.