RT UK
© Reuters
Russia Today has in the past been accused of being a propaganda arm of the Kremlin
Russia has threatened to ban British reporters from its country if its state broadcaster loses its UK licence as the row over the Salisbury spy poison attack intensifies.

It comes after Britain's media regulator said Russia Today (RT) faces losing its licence to broadcast in the UK if Moscow was found to be behind the Salisbury chemical attack on a former Russian double agent.

Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for Russia's foreign ministry, was quoted by the state-run RIA news agency as saying: "Not a single British media outlet will work in our country if they shut down Russia Today (RT)".

It is unclear whether the threat to ban British media will extend to World Cup coverage on television, radio and newspapers.


Comment: Of course it will, idiots! That's the point!


Meanwhile in a blunt warning to Prime Minister Theresa May's government, Zakharova also said nobody should threaten a nuclear power, alluding to Russia.

Mrs May has said Moscow may have been behind the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury and has said it is ready to take tough action against Moscow.

cop UK russian spy poisoning
© Getty Images - Getty
A police officer in a forensics suit and protective mask stands by a forensics tent outside a vehicle recovery centre as investigations continue into the poisoning of Sergei Skripal
What we know so far:
But some British lawmakers have said Russia Today should be blocked after the poisoning.

The round-the-clock news network is funded by Vladimir Putin's government to broadcast news with an edge for viewers who want to "question more".

Meanwhile Ofcom, which enforces the broadcasting code in Britain, has said today any ruling that Russia had acted unlawfully against Britain over the poisoning would be taken into consideration when assessing the network.

The regulator said has an ongoing duty to check that holders of licences are "fit and proper".

RT, which runs eight TV channels including RT UK broadcast from London, said it disagreed with the position taken by Ofcom.

"Our broadcasting has in no way changed this week from any other week and continues to adhere to all standards," it said in a statement.

"By linking RT to unrelated matters, Ofcom is conflating its role as a broadcasting regulator with matters of state."

Available in more than 100 countries, RT says it covers stories overlooked by the mainstream media and provides alternative perspectives on current affairs, including giving a Russian viewpoint.

May will brief parliament on the situation tomorrow and Ofcom said it would consider the implications for RT's broadcast licences after that.

In a letter to ANO TV Novosti, the holder of RT's UK broadcast licences, Ofcom said it would carry out an independent "fit and proper" assessment and would write to RT again shortly to set out the details of the process.

"This letter explained that, should the UK investigating authorities determine that there was an unlawful use of force by the Russian State against the UK, we would consider this relevant to our ongoing duty to be satisfied that RT is fit and proper," Ofcom said.