The US Embassy in London – which Donald Trump claimed was the reason he cancelled his upcoming trip to the UK – owes almost £12 million in unpaid congestion charges, figures reveal.
Between 2003 and December 31, 2017, American diplomats clocked up £11,925,560 in fines, according to Transport for London (TfL) data – the highest figure for any country with an embassy in the capital.
The US argues the congestion charge is a tax and that diplomats are therefore exempt from paying.
“Reason I canceled my trip to London is that I am not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for “peanuts,” only to build a new one in an off location for 1.2 billion dollars,” Trump wrote this morning.
“Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!”
The embassy is due to move from its current location in Mayfair to South London.
Reason I canceled my trip to London is that I am not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for “peanuts,” only to build a new one in an off location for 1.2 billion dollars. Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!
January 12, 2018
But the US is far from the only embassy to have clocked up millions in unpaid congestion fees.
Despite claims from TfL that “three-quarters” of embassies in the capital pay the congestion charge, since 2003 almost £110 million of outstanding debt has been accrued by foreign diplomats.
While America tops the table with £11.9 million of debt, it is closely followed by the Embassy of Japan (£8 million) and the High Commission for the Federal Republic of Nigeria (£6.7 million).
Congestion Charge Fines – The Worst Offenders* 1. American Embassy – £11,925,560 2. Embassy of Japan – £8,021,190 3. High Commission for the Federal Republic of Nigeria – £6,724,405 4. Embassy of the Russian Federation – £5,653,955 5. Office of the High Commissioner for India – £5,394,580 *Figures correct December 31, 2017.
The figures follow a campaign by TfL and the Foreign Office to collect the outstanding fees.
“We and the UK Government are clear that the Congestion Charge is a charge for a service and not a tax,” a spokesperson for TfL said in December.
“This means that diplomats are not exempt from paying it.
“Around three quarters of embassies in London do pay the charge, but there remains a stubborn minority who refuse to do so, despite our representations through diplomatic channels,” they continued.
“We will continue to pursue all unpaid Congestion Charge fees and related penalty charge notices and are pushing for the matter to be taken up at the International Court of Justice.”