The Foreign Office says it is fed up with "silly jokes" about "from Russia with love". The official line is that there are far too many real problems in places like Iran and Afghanistan to spend time worrying about a junior diplomat being indiscreet in the Urals.
Yesterday, a four-minute video surfaced featuring 37-year-old British diplomat James Hudson, entitled "Adventures of Mr Hudson in Russia". It shows the deputy consul general in Ekaterinburg cavorting with two prostitutes. He has since resigned.
A spokeswoman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said: "The FCO expects all its staff to demonstrate high levels of personal and professional integrity and takes all allegations of inappropriate behaviour seriously.
"That said, we are not in a position to confirm or deny the allegations in this story, and we do not generally comment or individual members of staff or individual personal matters."
But, her colleagues confirmed that Mr Hudson was indeed the man in the film, seen entering a room – reportedly a brothel – drinking on a sofa, and kissing two blonde women in their underwear. In one scene a female voice asks in broken English: "Would you like it?"
Last weekend, it emerged that the holiday snaps of the next head of MI6, Sir John Sawers, taken by his wife, were freely available for the public to view on Facebook. Thanks to comments by the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, he is in danger of being known forever as "the spy in Speedos".
But the case of Mr Hudson is a bit more serious. It has been suggested that the diplomat might have been lured into a "honey trap" by the Russian intelligence service FSB, the successor to the KGB, with the aim of embarrassing the British Government.
Mr Hudson joined the FCO in 1994, and his postings had included Sarajevo, Havana and Budapest. He married his wife, Sally, in London in 1996, but they divorced the following year. The couple have one child.
There is no evidence that he worked for any of the UK's intelligence arms, and his rank would not have given him access to many secrets. The consensus in diplomatic and security circles was that the FSB had merely taken advantage of an opportunity which presented itself.
One source told The Independent: "FCO staff are given warnings about the risks involved, and this is what happened when this was ignored. There is a more relaxed approach to using brothels in Russia among certain sections of the business community, but this should not extend to diplomats."
There has been a series of rows between Britain and Russia over spying in recent years. Last week, the British Government accused Russia of being actively engaged in cyber espionage, while security agencies have claimed there is a steady rise in the number of Russian agents active in the UK.
The murder of former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko continues to provoke controversy, with Russia refusing Britain's request to extradite a suspect, Andrei Lugovoy.
One of the most widely reported allegations of recent years was MI6's use of a fake "rock" left in a Moscow street, acting as a transmitter and sending data to a palmtop computer. The plan was supposedly inspired by a David Attenborough wildlife programme in which a tiny camera was hidden inside artificial elephant dung.Reuse content