Cockney ex-con Harry Pendel (Rush), leaves England and becames a tailor in Panama. Years later he is well known about the town for his work, and more specifically for the stories he tells.
A British spy, Osnard (Brosnan), gets word of this ex-English citizen and decides to recruit him for British intelligence. With orders to listen to comments and conversations by his wealthy, political and powerful patrons, Harry must report his findings to Osnard.
Harry takes the job happily, but in keeping with his criminal ways, the information he reports isn't entirely accurate.