A $2m parking ticket? US Embassy v London congestion charge

Some of you may recall a couple of years ago when London instituted its congestion charge to help ease traffic and parking concerns in the city. Many people balked, but the £8 a day ($16) fee has indeed reduced congestion and raised revenue. Not everybody is pleased about paying the fee, but a few have made it a point to really raise non-payment to an art form. Case in point, America's Ambassador to the Court of St. James, Robert Holmes Tuttle. Tuttle and his embassy staff have amassed £1,000,000 ($2M) in fees and fines for going more than a year without paying the congestion charge.
In the process they have accumulated 10,486 non-payment citations. While the US is by far the worst offender, several African nations have also thumbed their noses at the fees. London Mayor Ken Livingstone has threatened legal action to get the US to pay up. In their defense, the US Embassy says this is a tax, which they would be exempt from. Livingstone counters that it is in fact a fee:

"They are entitled to their opinion but it is for the British authorities to decide what is a tax and what is not a tax in the UK. Both the UK government and the Greater London Authority consider the congestion charge a charge for a service: reduced congestion. The issue here is clear: the US government rightly expects international diplomats living in Washington to respect US law; we are entitled to expect US diplomats living in London to respect British law. British diplomats in the US pay American tolls and charges."

Tuttle also happens to be one of the principals behind the Tuttle-Click string of auto dealers in Orange County, California. Stay tuned, this could get ugly.

[Source: Yorkshire Post Today via Hemmings]

Share This Photo X