Carl Gardner, a former government lawyer, said the law was specifically designed to stop acts of terrorism of other breaches of international law within a foreign embassy, which Ecuador was not guilty of.The fallout to Britain's diplomatic reputation should such actions be taken would be enormous and hugely damaging:
Sir Tony Brenton, who served as the United Kingdom's ambassador to Russia between 2004 and 2008, said "arbitrarily" overturning the status of the building where Mr Assange has taken shelter to avoid extradition, would make life 'impossible' for British diplomats overseas.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme: "I think the Foreign Office have slightly overreached themselves here, for both practical and legal reasons.
So why would they even contemplate creating such a situation? Well a clue can be found in the document presented to Ecuador by British diplomats in Quito (my emphasis):"The Government itself has no interest in creating a situation where it is possible for governments everywhere to arbitrarily cut off diplomatic immunity. It would be very bad."
We are aware, and surprised by media reports in the last 24 hours, that Ecuador is about to take a decision and proposes to grant asylum to Mr. Assange. The reports quote official sources. We note that the (Ecuadorean) President (Rafael Correa) has stated that no decision has yet been made.Thus the priority is we must meet our EU obligations above and beyond our own country's interests even if it means international ridicule, condemnation and isolation. Happy days.
We are concerned, if true, that this might undermine our efforts to agree a joint text setting out the positions of both countries, allowing Mr. Assange to leave the Embassy.
As we have previously set out, we must meet our legal obligations under the European Arrest Warrant Framework Decision and the Extradition Act 2003, to arrest Mr. Assange and extradite him to Sweden. We remain committed to working with you amicably to resolve this matter. But we must be absolutely clear this means that should we receive a request for safe passage for Mr. Assange, after granting asylum, this would be refused, in line with our legal obligations.