16 February 2011

US Embassy London has highest unpaid congestion fines bill

The amount of money owed by foreign embassies in unpaid congestion charge fines is expected to break £50 million this month, figures from Transport for London show.

US Embassy

The US Embassy in London has the highest unpaid congestion charge bill, followed closely by Russia.

More than 150 embassies have outstanding penalty charge notices dating back up to eight years, with the US Embassy London owing the most - £4.9 million on more than 45,000 notices since the charge was introduced in 2003.

Diplomats insist the charge is a tax, rather than a charge for a service, and therefore they have immunity, however Mayor Boris Johnson insisted he would pursue the debts. Negotiations have seen some embassies start to pay.

Russia has the next highest bill with £4.3 million, followed by Japan on £3.5 million, and Germany with £3.4 million.

TfL said: "The charge is for a service and is not a tax. This means that diplomats are not exempt from paying it. Three quarters of embassies in London do pay it, but a stubborn minority refuse to do so."

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