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Britain recognises Libyan rebels as country’s legitimate government

But the country’s old regime remains defiant – as the Lockerbie bomber is spotted at a pro-Gaddafi rally in Tripoli.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague.
Image: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Updated 14.38

BRITAIN HAS OFFICIALLY recognised Libya’s National Transitional Council as the legitimate ruler of the country and has expelled all staff from the Libyan embassy in London to make way for representatives from the new authority.

Speaking at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office today, Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague said: “The prime minister and I have decided that the United Kingdom recognises and will deal with the National Transitional Council as the sole governmental authority in Libya”.

“In line with that decision we summoned the Libyan charge d’affaires to the Foreign Office today and informed him that he and the other regime diplomats from the Gaddafi regime must leave the UK. We no longer recognise them as the representatives of the Libyan government,” he added.

The move is unusual one for Britain, which normally recognises sates rather than specific governments, the Guardian reports. A foreign office source told the newspaper: “These are exceptional circumstances. It was an anomaly that we had these people here still representing Gaddafi.”

The Telegraph reports there are believed to be eight staff loyal to Gaddafi’s regime at the Libyan embassy in Knightsbridge. They will be given a few days to leave the UK.

Last month, the United States and several other countries recognised the National Transitional Council as the legitimate government of Libya.

Meanwhile, in what appears to be another sign of defiance by the Gaddafi regime, the Lockerbie bomber has been spotted at a pro-Gaddafi rally in Libya’s capital Tripoli.

Abdel Baset al-Megrahi was convicted in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am plane over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, killed 270 people. He was the only person ever convicted of the atrocity but was controversially released from a Scottish prison in 2009 after being diagnosed with prostate cancer – after being just months to live.

Despite assurances by Gaddafi’s government that the situation would be handles delicately, al-Megrhai returned to a hero’s welcome in Libya later that year.

AP Photo/Libya State TV

Additional reporting by the AP

Read: New government for Libya >

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