William Hague's expulsion of Iranian diplomats divides opinion
Guardian / Robert Booth and Saeed Kamali Dehghan

The green, white and red tricolour of Iran still fluttered on Wednesday night above the entrance to the Iranian embassy in London after the foreign secretary, William Hague, had ordered its occupants to leave.

"These so-called diplomats are just mercenaries of the regime," said a smart-suited Iranian dissident gesturing at the windows on the second and third floors, where strip lights burned. "I have just come here to get the pleasure of seeing them leaving. Every Iranian feels like that. Hague should have given them two hours, not 48 hours to leave."

There were no immediate signs of departure from the stucco mansion overlooking Hyde Park, which became famous in 1980 when SAS commandos stormed it to end a hostage crisis. Then, it was the scene of great drama, as special forces burst through the windows to end the standoff.

This time it was all a lot quieter. The ambassador's shiny black Mercedes saloon, complete with personalised numberplate, was parked by the kerb ready to go. The camera crews waited, but there was no sign of movement. A lone policeman stood guard behind some hastily erected barriers.

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