From Just Journalism, 30 June 2010:
[In] the cases of the alleged Russian spy ring arrested in the US yesterday and the suspected assassination by Israeli agents of a Hamas leader in Dubai in January this year, the common misuse of British and Irish passports is worth noting. In the latter case, expressions of political and media outrage were abundant; in the former, not so much on either front.
An editorial published by The Guardian ...following the Dubai affair: ‘Israel and Britain: The rule of law,’ (24 March 2010) ...described the faking of UK passports as ‘the mark[s] of an arrogant nation that has overreached itself.’
In today’s editorial, ‘Russian espionage: Spies like us,’ in the same newspaper, the alleged use of a forged UK passport failed to even elicit a mention.
...In [BBC] coverage so far the profile given to the UK passport forgery is negligible. Of the eight articles published on its news website on the subject in the last 24 hours, only three even mention the issue...
BBC broadcast coverage followed the same line, treating the misuse of UK passports as a footnote. Yesterday's PM programme on Radio 4 contained a three-minute report on the story in which the introduction stated: ‘British officials say they’re investigating whether a member of the alleged Russian spy ring used a UK passport.’ In the subsequent interview with an ex-KGB agent, the subject was not revisited. Last night's The World Tonight did not mention this point in its brief coverage at all. On the channel’s flagship news programme, Today, only one of the numerous reports contained a (passing) reference to the use of a British passport by the alleged spies.
Both the BBC Six and Ten O’clock news editions contained brief mentions of the fact that a British passport may have been used by the alleged Russian spies, whereas Channel 4 News gave the allegation prominence by including it in its introduction to the story; however, this was not followed up subsequently.
Unlike the swift and strong political reaction from the UK to the suggestion that Israel had misused British passports in the Dubai affair, the Foreign Office has, as yet, not issued harsh words aimed at the Russian government...