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Last Updated: Friday, 10 September, 2004, 12:03 GMT 13:03 UK
Libya 'owes most parking fines'
Parking warden
The majority of diplomats "meet their obligations"
Libyan diplomats are the worst at paying UK parking fines, according to a list issued by the Foreign Office.

Outstanding parking and "minor traffic violation" bills from its diplomatic missions reached 34,480 in 2003.

It was revealed during annual attempts to persuade diplomats to settle unpaid fines and rates, which this year totalled more than 1.3m.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said most nations "met their obligations". The Libyan Embassy refused to comment.

The annual statement is used to put pressure on diplomatic missions, including embassies, to settle their bills.

AMOUNT OWED IN TRAFFIC FINES
Libya: 34,480
Saudi Arabia: 24,200
Nigeria: 15,850
Georgia: 16, 460
China: 14,080
Kazakhstan: 13,670
Turkey: 10,410
Egypt: 10, 930
Ghana: 9,650
Greece: 8,230
In May the Foreign Office sent a letter asking those with traffic fines to pay up or appeal, prompting payments of 49,280.

But 350,170 remains outstanding, as do 1,847 fines for London's 5-a-day congestion charge.

London is not the only city to experience the problem. In New York diplomats accumulated nearly $20m in unpaid parking fees, before mayor Michael Bloomberg drew up tough new rules to stop them.

But most of the money owed in the UK - 980,000 - was from diplomatic missions that had not paid the National Non-Domestic Rate (NNDR), which is a business property tax.

Mozambique topped the list of ten worst offenders with an outstanding NNDR bill of 33, 718 as of 31 July 2004.

Immunity doesn't absolve them of their duty to obey the law
Foreign Office spokesman
In the statement, Mr Straw said another 12 countries who had owed more than 10,000 NNDR payments were in the process of settling their bills.

A Foreign Office spokesman said diplomatic missions and other international organisations were obliged, under the Vienna Convention, to respect the laws and regulations of their host country.

"Immunity doesn't absolve them of their duty to obey the law," he said.

"We follow it up regularly, we remind them of their obligations and we encourage them along."

But he added only 64 of more than 200 diplomatic missions in the UK were named in the list, adding that most kept up to date with their fines.


SEE ALSO:
Congestion charge fine up by 25%
23 Jul 04  |  London
NY parking immunity row defused
09 Aug 02  |  Americas
Country profile: Libya
13 Jul 04  |  Country profiles


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