27 Jul 2011

Gaddafi’s diplomats expelled from Britain

All Colonel Gaddafi’s Libyan diplomats are to be expelled from the UK as Britain recognises the National Transitional Council as the “sole governmental authority” in the country.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said the Libyan embassy in London’s Knightsbridge is to be handed over to the NTC, which has been invited to appoint a diplomatic envoy.

It is understood that eight representatives of Colonel Gaddafi‘s regime are still staffing the Libyan Embassy in London’s Knightsbridge, more than four months after Britain joined international air strikes.

The Libyan charge d’affaires was today being summoned to the Foreign Office to be told he and his staff must leave the UK.

“We no longer recognise them as the representatives of the Libyan Government and we are inviting the National Transitional Council to appoint a new Libyan diplomatic envoy to take over the Libyan Embassy in London,” Mr Hague said.

He added that the move would allow Britain to give “greater practical assistance” to the opposition movement which is fighting to oust Gaddafi after 42 years in power.

Mr Hague also announced that Britain is unfreezing assets worth £91m belonging to an oil company now controlled by the NTC, to help it provide for the material needs of civilians in liberated areas of the country.

"It is 'political recognition' but not legal recognition. So it doesn't open the door for Britain to hand over the hundreds of millions of pounds worth of assets the Gaddafi regime has in this country to the NTC - though that has been the ardent wish of the Government for some time."

Read Gary Gibbon's blog - Hague's Libya move less than it appears
 National Transitional Council pin badge. (Getty)

On the issue of whether Colonel Gaddafi should leave Libya, Mr Hague said it was “ultimately a question for Libyans to determine”. Earlier this week the Foreign Secretary suggested that Gaddafi might be able to remain in Libya.

But International Criminal Court spokeswoman Florence Olara insisted that Gaddafi “has to be arrested”. The ICC warrants for his arrest for trial at The Hague were “legal facts” which cannot go away, she said.

Mr Hague said: “We strongly support warrants they have issued… (although) we can’t dictate a political settlement… the best solution is for Gaddafi to leave Libya but it is not one we can impose or guarantee.”

Read more: ICC names Gaddafi and son as war crimes suspects
Megrahi - Reuters

Meanwhile, there was outrage in the UK and America after the man convicted of killing 270 people in the Lockerbie bombing was shown attending a pro-government rally in Libya.

Abdel Basset al-Megrahi was released from a Scottish prison almost two years ago on compassionate grounds, after the authorities were told he had less than three months to live.

In footage broadcast on Libyan TV, a presenter introduced Megrahi, who was in a wheelchair, and said his conviction was the result of a “conspiracy”.

Mr Hague criticised the original decision to release al-Megrahi, saying: “The appearance of Megrahi on Libyan TV is further reminder that a great mistake was made when he was released.”