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US diplomats in London owe more than £9 million in parking fines

American_Eagle_on_the_London_EmbassyFigures released by the UK’s Foreign Office show US diplomats in London racked up more than £8 million in parking fines and congestion charges in a decade. Foreign and Commonwealth under-secretary Mark Simmonds compiled a report for Parliament which showed US embassy staffers still owed £8.2 million in fines for the period from February 2003 through December 2013. 

The fines were the outcome of more than 70,000 offences and unpaid congestion charges for the period. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told Parliament that the figure owing now stood at £9.4 million, but the US claimed it did not have to pay as the offences were covered by diplomatic immunity.

The amount the US embassy owes is more than 10 per cent of the total £87.4 million owed in parking penalties by foreign embassies on British soil. In his statement, Mr Hammond explained that representatives from the Foreign Office had met with staff at some of the embassies to try and resolve the issue.

He noted that the embassies had been given letters saying that they could appeal against the penalties. The letters also stated that if the embassies agreed the charges were correct then they should pay up. 

Mr Hammond continued by saying that some of the embassies had paid up to the tune of £214,154 and this left the total outstanding for the fiscal year of 2014 at £322,135. After the US, the worst offending embassies were Japan, Russia and Nigeria who still owed fines adding up to around the £6 million mark each.

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