At least four Met officers stand guard around the clock
William Hague admits there is 'no sign of breakthrough'
By Chris Greenwood, Crime Reporter
The police bill for staking out the embassy where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is evading justice has already reached more than £1million.
Scotland Yard confirmed it is costing £11,000 every day to ensure the Australian does not flee his bolthole at the Ecuadorean Embassy.
The final bill could be much more as the 41-year-old continues to defy extradition to Sweden where he is suspected of sexually assaulting two women.
Hefty bill: A phalanx of Scotland Yard police officers surrounds the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has taken refuge as he evades sex assault allegations
Ecuadorean foreign minister Ricardo Pinto has warned that Mr Assange he could be in the embassy for a decade if he is not allowed to leave Britain.
Critics have called on the Metropolitan Police to end the costly stakeout.
Last week, Foreign Secretary William Hague admitted there is ‘no sign of any breakthrough’ after meeting his Ecuadorean counterpart Ricardo Pinto at the United Nations in New York.
Mr Pinto has warned Mr Assange that he could be in the embassy for a decade if he is not allowed to leave Britain.
At least four Met officers guard the embassy, on the second floor of a block of flats behind Harrods in Knightsbridge, West London, around the clock.
They have set up a £250,000 mobile command station on the doorstep of the building and occupy positions outside and in surrounding properties.
Officers from every London borough, specialist police units and undercover squads have been brought in to join the open-ended stake out.
One colleague said: ‘The officers are being moved around every three or four days to stop the boredom setting in.
‘There are certainly plenty of other things these officers could be doing than standing there around the clock.’
Time well spent? At least four Met officers guard the embassy, on the second floor of a block of flats behind Harrods, around the clock
If the costs continued at the average of £11,000 a day the total would now be over £1.1million.
Critics called on the Met to end the stand-off but sources said the force cannot step back from its responsibilities to arrest Assange for breaching his bail.
Jenny Jones, a Green politician in the capital who sits on a committee that oversees the Met’s work, called for the officers to go back on the beat.
She said: ‘It is ridiculous at a time when the Met is stretched as never before that so many officers are waiting around the Ecuadorian Embassy for Assange to attempt an escape.’
Lib Dem Caroline Pidgeon, who also sits on the London Assembly, added: ‘For 100 days Assange has been evading an arrest warrant for the alleged offence of rape and
trying to escape the fair judicial process of Sweden.
‘At a time when police counters are closing across London his actions are a gross waste of valuable resources.’