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UK is Owed £82 Million By Foreign Embassies

By raccars Published

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Transport for London and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have chosen to shame foreign embassies in the UK by revealing that they have racked up congestion charges and parking fines of an incredible £82 million. The highest single amount owed is by the US embassy, which owes £8,775,965 in unpaid fines for more than 70,000 offences.

The fines have been incurred by diplomats driving around London since the February 2003 introduction of the congestion charge, for which a third of embassies refuse to pay up. TfL now intends to lay claim to the outstanding funds owed by the offending embassies in the International Court of Justice.

After the US, the Embassy of Japan owes £6,006,215 in unpaid congestion charge fines, the Embassy of the Russian Federation's debt stands at £5,222,380, the High Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at £4,920,385 and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany at £3,992,900.

Parking fines appear to be treated with equal disdain, with an unpaid debt total of £344,176 for over 5,000 fines among foreign embassies in the UK in 2013. Nigeria took the dishonourable top spot for outstanding parking fines, owing £74,557. That's more than double the second worst offender, the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, which owes £30,690 for its parking transgressions, followed by the High Commission for the Republic of Zambia in third place, with a parking debt of £22,700, the Embassy of the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire with £14,115 and the Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan with £13,375 to pay.

Officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have had face to face discussions about the issue with diplomats and followed the meetings with letters in April this year, giving them the opportunity to either pay up or appeal any fines they considered unjust or incorrectly issued. As a result, nearly £200,000 was wiped off the total unpaid parking fines bill, after some embassies paid their debts and others convinced local authorities to dismiss the fines.

Offences appear to be increasing, with 7% more fines incurred in 2013 than 2012. Iran and Syria both owe large sums, with Iran in the process of recommencing a diplomatic presence in the UK, while the latter has no UK embassy, meaning these debts are unrecoverable at the moment.

Questioned about the UK's commitment to fine paying abroad, the Foreign Office was very clear that UK diplomatic missions staff respect local driving regulations and laws and pay parking fines where necessary as obligated by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

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