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Foreign diplomats owe over £111m in unpaid motoring fines

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Hippo Leasing reveals which foreign diplomats owe the most (and least) in motoring fines according to exclusive figures obtained from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO).

Foreign diplomats owe over £111m in unpaid motoring fines, with the Congestion Charge accounting for a staggering £109,989,245.

To put this figure into context, the total net income from the Congestion Charge was £155.9m in 2017/18. This equates to a huge amount of lost revenue for TfL which, by law, would have been re-invested in London transport networks in line with the Mayor’s Transport Strategy.

When it comes to diplomats not paying their motoring fines, the American Embassy is by far the worst, owing almost £12m. Most of this debt comes from unpaid Congestion Charge fees; £11,925,920 in fact.

Other bad offenders include Japan, Nigeria, Russia and India who have all accrued debts of over £5 million. The High Commission for the Federal Republic of Nigeria owes the highest amount in unpaid parking fines, totaling an incredible £272,740:

#

Country

Congestion Charge owed (£)

Parking Fines owed (£)

Total owed

(£)

1

United States (American Embassy)

11,925,920

3,765

11,929,685

2

Japan (Embassy of Japan)

8,021,190

2,195

8,023,385

3

Nigeria (High Commission for the Federal Republic of Nigeria)

6,724,405

272,740

6,997,145

4

Russia (Embassy of the Russian Federation)

5,653,955

8,952

5,662,907

5

India (Office of the High Commissioner for India)

5,394,580

5,490

5,400,070

6

China (Embassy of the People’s Republic of China)

4,337,295

6,715

4,344,010

7

Germany (Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany)

4,288,680

5,790

4,294,470

8

Poland (Embassy of the Republic of Poland)

4,065,250

2,655

4,067,905

9

Ghana (High Commission for the Republic of Ghana)

3,655,695

7,180

3,662,875

10

Sudan (Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan)

3,160,730

48,824

3,209,554

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under the controversial 1961 Vienna Convention, diplomats are immune from prosecution in their host country. This means they legally don’t have to pay motoring fines.

However, that doesn’t mean diplomats can’t pay them. Some nations, out of good will, consistently pay off their motoring fines despite benefitting from diplomatic immunity.

According to the FCO data, diplomats of three UK embassies (Central African Republic, New Zealand and Paraguay) owe absolutely nothing, having consistently settled their accrued debts over the years: 

#

Country

Congestion Charge owed (£)

Parking Fines owed (£)

Total owed (£)

1

Central African Republic (Embassy of the Central African Republic)

0

0

0

2

New Zealand (New Zealand High Commission)

0

0

0

3

Paraguay (Embassy of the Republic of Paraguay)

0

0

0

4

Peru (Embassy of Peru)

0

40

40

5

Montenegro (Embassy of Montenegro)

0

65

65

6

Netherlands (Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)

0

65

65

7

Venezuela (Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela)

0

65

65

8

Costa Rica (Embassy of Costa Rica)

0

130

130

9

Nepal (Embassy of Nepal)

0

130

130

10

Norway (Royal Norwegian Embassy)

0

130

130

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tom Preston, managing director of Hippo Leasing said, While some argue diplomatic immunity is an outdated principle and open to exploitation, foreign officials remain under no legal obligation to pay their motoring fines. 

“Total debts are only set to increase following the introduction of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone in April, designed to cut traffic further and help clean up the dangerously polluted air in London. As well as looking at the economic impact of foreign diplomats driving in the Capital, it’s important to consider the environmental and public health costs too.”




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