Motorhome insurance providers will note with interest that foreign diplomats have run up a £58 million motoring offences bill that appears to have little chance of ever being settled.
The massive bill came to light from information given out by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) who revealed that the bill was made up of unpaid motoring fines from a total of 64 different countries. At a time when insurance companies come under increasing pressure from all sides of the motoring spectrum to bring down motor insurance premiums it seems remarkable that the incumbent government have failed so miserably at collecting fines from fellow diplomats.
The USA is the biggest fine dodger by far having run up an unpaid bill of over £6 million for congestion charges and apparently they refuse to pay the fines saying diplomatic immunity excludes them from having to pay local taxes which they claim congestion charges are. So much for the special relationship then! Japan, Russia and Germany all owe figures in excess of £3 million. If the London Olympics offered medals for countries that owed the most in parking fines then Nigeria would run away with the gold. They rattled up a bill of £67,000 last year alone… all of it unpaid of course.
Foreign Secretary William Hague insists his department badger the foreign embassies for payment of the fines and Earl Atlee reported in the House of Lords last year that London mayor Boris Johnson had tackled President Obama about payment of the £6 million when he visited the UK. On a more serious note the FCO also revealed that 5 foreign diplomats were suspected of breaking the UK’s drink driving laws in 2011. The embassy officials came from Angola, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kuwait and Ukraine. All managed to avoid criminal charges because of their diplomatic immunity.