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Embassies flout congestion charge to the tune of £23M

Diplomatic embassies in London are not paying the congestion charge, leaving Transport for London out of pocket to the tune of £23M.

Worst offender is the US embassy, based in Grosvenor Square, which has accrued a staggering 26,165 unpaid charges, which would have cost £209,320, but has now been elevated to £2,735,245 in unpaid penalties.

This is an average of almost 17 penalties for the US embassy every weekday since charging began in the capital close to six years ago.

The US may begin to reduce its penalty notices as it moves from its current spot in Mayfair, which has had a controversial security facelift recently, to a new site outside the congestion charging zone in south London. It is uncler whether president elect Barack Obama will employ a new policy of paying the charge when he comes to office in January.

However, the US embassy is not the only offender. London Mayor Boris Johnson has published a list of 123 offending embassies, owing a single charge upwards.

London's congestion charge was controversially introduced by then Mayor Ken Livingstone in February 2003.

Although initially opposed by the government, Prime Minister Tony Blair later hailed the exercise as a success and held an olive branch to Livingstone, who had been expelled from the Labour Party.

The congestion charge stands at £8 per day. New Mayor Boris Johnson is looking to review the western extension of the zone to Kensington and Chelsea.

The 10 worst offenders:

  • AMERICAN EMBASSY: 26,165 unpaid charges - £209,320. Value of penalty: £2,735,245

  • EMBASSY OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION: 17,292 unpaid charges £138,336. Value of penalty: £1,849,260

  • EMBASSY OF JAPAN: 16,657 unpaid charges - £133,256. Value of penalty: £1,767,840

  • EMBASSY OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY: 14,761unpaid charges - £118,088. Value of penalty: £1,573,690

  • HIGH COMMISSION FOR THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA: 13,050 unpaid charges - £104,400. Value of penalty: £1,350,670

  • THE EMBASSY OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE SUDAN: 9,082 unpaid charges - £72,656. Value of penalty: £924,400

  • OFFICE OF THE HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR INDIA: 5,745 unpaid charges - £209,320. Value of penalty: £622,840

  • KENYA HIGH COMMISSION: 5,926 unpaid charges - £47,408. Value of penalty: £604,390

  • EMBASSY OF THE REPUBLIC OF POLAND: 5,193 unpaid charges - £41,544. Value of penalty: £554,820

  • HIGH COMMISSION FOR THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA: 5,297 unpaid charges - £42,376. Value of penalty: £539,500

And the 11 least worst offenders:

  • OFFICE OF THE HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR THE REPUBLIC OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: 2 unpaid charges - £16. Value of penalty: £120

  • BARBADOS HIGH COMMISSION: 1 unpaid charge - £8. Value of penalty £120

  • EMBASSY OF THE REPUBLIC OF RWANDA: 5 unpaid charges - £40. Value of penalty £120

  • HIGH COMMISSION FOR GRENADA: 1 unpaid charge - £8. Value of penalty £120

  • HIGH COMMISSION FOR SAINT CHRISTOPHER AND NEVIS: 1 unpaid charge - £8. Value of penalty £120

  • AMBASSADE DE LA REPUBLIQUE DU BURUNDI: 1 unpaid charge - £8. Value of penalty £60

  • ROYAL NORWEGIAN EMBASSY: 1 unpaid charge - £8. Value of penalty £60

  • AUSTRALIAN HIGH COMMISSION: 1 unpaid charge - £8. Value of penalty £60

  • NEW ZEALAND HIGH COMMISSION: 1 unpaid charge - £8. Value of penalty £60

  • BRAZILIAN EMBASSY: 1 unpaid charge - £8. Value of penalty £60

  • ROYAL NETHERLANDS EMBASSY: 1 unpaid charge - £8. Value of penalty £60

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