HM British Ambassador in Tehran
The British Mission in Tehran was first established in 1821 in the Bagh-e-Elchi or the Old Bazaar. By the 1860’s, the overcrowding and poor sanitary conditions forced the government to look for a more suitable location. The Ferdowsi site was purchased in a spacious suburb north of the old city at a cost of 20,000 Tomans (about 8,000 Pounds).
Most famous of all the historical events associated with the embassy is the great 'bast' (meaning sanctuary) of July/August 1906 when, during the constitutional struggle, some 12-16,000 Tehranis took sanctuary in the compound and by thus paralysing the life of the city, forced Muzaffar-ud-din Shah to issue his celebrated Farman of 5 August 1906 granting the people a constitution and National Assembly.
Following the Islamic revolution in 1979, the British Embassy was placed under the protection of Sweden. In 1987, all staff were withdrawn from Tehran following a series of setbacks to relations. In November 1988, UK Foreign Minister Geoffrey Howe agreed with Iranian Foreign Minister Velayati to resume diplomatic contact. Staff returned in January of 1989. However, on 14 February 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini issued his fatwa against Salman Rushdie and his publishers. European Community Foreign Ministers agreed to withdraw their heads of mission from Tehran in response. The British Government withdrew all UK-based staff. Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait made it desirable to re-establish relations once more, in September 1990. Relations have continued since then, though the UK and all other EU countries withdrew their heads of mission in April 1997 when a German court issued a verdict that members of the Iranian intelligence services were responsible for the murder of four Iranian Kurds in Germany in 1992. Heads of mission returned in November 1997 following the election of President Khatami, who showed determination to pursue the establishment of a civil society and the rule of law, and to promote wider international understanding. Britain and Iran jointly upgraded the relationship to ambassadorial status in 1999.