Diplomats owe more than £1m in parking fines


Foreign diplomats have racked up fines of more than £1m in Central London according to Westminster council bosses.

The worst offender is the Kazakhstan embassy, which has accumulated £189,640 from 1,715 unpaid tickets, followed by the Sudanese embassy which managed to clock up £108,240 in fines for 1,005 tickets.

While there are clearly multiple offenders in each office, the biggest culprit is the driver of a BMW 318i from the Kazakhstan office that owes a mammoth £53,820 for 471 tickets alone.

Two Sudanese employees have racked up £56,320 between them for 544 ignored tickets. The tickets were issued over a four year period between the start of 2007 and the end of 2010.

There is little chance that the fines will be paid though, as while diplomats are expected to obey laws in their host country, international treaties protect them from the prosecution that would be needed to bring them to justice.

Cllr Lee Rowley, Westminster City Council's cabinet member for parking, said: "All motorists who break traffic rules should be subject to the same penalties, regardless of their citizenship, nationality or job title.

"It's time these offending diplomats started to respect the rules and regulations of the UK and pay their parking tickets like everyone else."

New York has suffered from a similar problem, with diplomats racking up $20m in fines, before Mayor Michael Bloomberg brought in tough new rules in 2002 to stamp out the practice.