Diplomats owe over £116m in congestion charges

Diplomats owe more than £116m to Transport for London for unpaid congestion charges, the Foreign Office has revealed.

The US Embassy owes the largest amount at almost £12.5m, while the Embassy of Japan owes over £8.5m.

The figures for the congestion charge dates back to between 2003 and 2018, with a total of £116,868,825 outstanding from embassies. The parking fines date from 2018 and total £200,686.

In a written statement, Mr Raab said as well as the meetings, the government had written to diplomatic missions and international organisations with debts “giving them the opportunity to either pay outstanding debts, or appeal against specific fines if they considered that they had been recorded incorrectly”.

However, a number of embassies claim that under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, they do not have to pay taxes, which they consider these fees to be.

A Foreign Office spokesman said they did not believe there were any legal grounds to exempt diplomats from paying the congestion charge, adding: “The charge is comparable to a parking fee or a toll charge, which diplomatic missions and international organisations are required to pay.”

And when it came to parking fines, he added: “Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, those entitled to immunity are expected to obey the law and we therefore expect all foreign diplomats to pay their parking fines.

“As the [foreign secretary’s statement] points out, we have made a concerted effort to urge missions to pay their fines.”

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