Hague cuts formal ties with Tripoli

By Alex Stevenson

Britain is expelling Libya's remaining staff from its embassy in London, William Hague has announced.

The foreign secretary ended the UK's formal ties with Muammar Gaddafi's regime in a press conference this morning.

"The prime minister and I have decided that the UK recognises and will deal with the national transitional council as the sole governmental authority in Libya," he said.

As a result the Libyan charge d'affaires and all other staff at the embassy will be forced to leave immediately.

Libyan assets in Britain which were previously frozen are to be released, including £91 million of frozen funds from a Libyan oil company, the Arabian Gulf Oil Company.

Mr Hague said he was making the announcement today "to increase our support of all those fighting and working for a better future for Libya".

"This decision marks another step towards a better, democratic future for Libya – a future that does not include Gaddafi," he told reporters.

"The momentum has shifted against him and those around him."

The Foreign Office will transfer the embassy to representatives of the transitional national government based in Benghazi.

Funding for Libyan students at British universities will not be interrupted as a result of the shift.

The latest move is the culmination of a series of steps against the Libyan government's representatives in London.

Five diplomats were expelled at the end of March following attacks against rebel-held Misrata.

May saw the expulsion of the Libyan ambassador, Omar Jelban, and then the declaration of two further diplomats as persona non grata.