So if Ecuador grant Assange asylum - what next?
How does he get from the front door of the Embassy to an airport? Those with asylum do not have freedom from criminal arrest in the UK. He is liable for arrest under section 7(3) Bail Act 1976 - A person who has been released on bail in criminal proceedings and is under a duty to surrender into the custody of a court may be arrested without warrant by a constable—if the constable has reasonable grounds for ...... suspecting that that person has broken any of those conditions.
He could become immune from arrest if he is appointed as a diplomatic agent by Ecuador as article 29 of the Vienna Convention (which is binding in English Law via Diplomatic Privileges Act 1964) states that The person of a diplomatic agent shall be inviolable. He shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention and this applies from the moment "his appointment is notified to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs or such other ministry as may be agreed" (article 39) - i.e. from the moment he is accredited to the Court of St James....
Ecuador is free to appoint who they want as diplomats and accreditation could not be refused by the UK - the sending State may freely appoint the members of the staff of the mission (article 7) but the UK could declare Assange persona non grata under article 9 - The receiving State may at any time and without having to explain its decision, notify the sending State that the head of the mission or any member of the diplomatic staff of the mission is persona non grata or that any other member of the staff of the mission is not acceptable. In any such case, the sending State shall, as appropriate, either recall the person concerned or terminate his functions with the mission
If Ecuador 'recalled' Assange then he would be able to get to the Heathrow without being arrested and he would be on his way to Ecuador......as he would only loose his immunity from arrest if Ecuador did not recall him:
If the sending State refuses or fails within a reasonable period to carry out its obligations under paragraph 1 of this article, the receiving State may refuse to recognize the person concerned as a member of the mission
So is that the plan? It would cause a massive diplomatic row between Sweden, UK and Ecuador - and Ecuador's presentation of Assange as a diplomatic agent would be viewed as an abuse of international law - but it does not sound like Ecuador's Govt is that bothered by those sorts of allegations......I bet there are quite a few worried civil servants in the FCO today.....