Embassies pay £40,000 parking fines

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The Independent Online

Two foreign embassies have finally paid thousands of pounds in outstanding parking fines incurred by their diplomats in central London, it was announced today.

After pressure from Westminster Council, Kazakhstan paid £37,160 for outstanding fines from 627 parking tickets, while the Nigerian Embassy has settled its bill of £3,450 for 78 parking tickets clocked up by diplomats last year.

Kazakhstan had topped the council's worst offenders list for unpaid parking fines.

The council is writing to heads of state of countries who still have not paid London fines, including America's President Barack Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The current worst offenders in Westminster are China, which last year clocked up 179 tickets worth £19,520, while the Turkish embassy owes £15,200 from 146 tickets.

Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates and Cyprus make up the rest of the top five and between them owe more than £38,140 from 357 unpaid parking tickets.

The French owe £2,900 from 28 tickets in 2010, while the US owes £2,380 and Germany £920.

Lee Rowley, Westminster council's cabinet member for parking, said: "If you inconvenience other drivers by parking incorrectly in Westminster, then you'll get a parking ticket and you should have to pay, regardless of who you are or your job title. Citing 'diplomatic immunity' as an excuse for not paying tickets is clearly unacceptable.

"No one likes getting a parking ticket but most motorists play fair and either pay the fine or follow the appeals process. It's time these diplomats started to respect the rules of the road in the UK, and stopped thinking they can do what they like at the expense of our taxpayers."