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Foreign embassies' motoring fines revealed

The bill for unpaid congestion charges by foreign diplomats in London has reached £87.4m, MPs have been told. The US - which argues it is covered by diplomatic immunity - owes £9.4m, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said. Councils are also owed £322,135 in unpaid parking fines, including £49,000 from the Nigerian High Commission. The crisis-hit Greek government owes £1.3m in congestion zone fees and £1,880 in parking fines, the annual breakdown reveals. In a written statement, Mr Hammond said the Foreign Office had held meetings with a number of embassies about their parking fine debt, and had also sent letters asking them to pay or appeal if they thought they were incorrect. Payments totalling £214,154 were then made, he said, leaving the total bill for 2014 of £322,135. The multimillion pound congestion charge bill dates from February 2003 until 31 December 2014. Minsters also revealed that 14 "serious and significant offences" were allegedly committed by people entitled to diplomatic immunity in 2014. These were defined as crimes that could carry at least a 12-month prison sentence. The two most common offences were driving without insurance and drink driving. All were motor-related, except for two - possession of a firearm, and "development of malware for the purpose of fraud" - both allegedly committed by Saudi Arabian diplomats. The government said the majority of the 22,000 people entitled to diplomatic immunity in the UK abided by the law.

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Posted on 18th July 2015 at 10:16 PM

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