Tuesday, 29 June 2010

The Price of Diplomacy

Staff at the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square, London have accumulated the grand total of £3,821,880 in unpaid congestion charge fines. Other diplomatic missions owe more than £100,000 each with the top defaulters being Japan (£2.76m), Germany (£2.64m) and Nigeria (£1.96m). The US has been in dispute about the charge since its introduction in 2003 and they continue to insist it is a tax and therefore its diplomats are immune. Russia also owes Transport for London £3,204,990.

As well as congestion charge issue, foreign embassy staff have been exempted from a range of serious charges that in normal cases would have carried a penalty of at least 12 months in prison, according to figures released in parliament.

Five diplomats have escaped shoplifting charges since 2005, diplomats or their dependents from Saudi Arabia and one from Sierra Leone were alleged to have been involved in human trafficking and one from Saudi Arabia was accused of sexual assault.

There are 25,000 embassy staff and their dependents in the UK covered by diplomatic immunity: over the past five years there were 78 exemptions from serious charges.

One law for the rich, one for the diplomats and one for the poor devils who pay for both. That's you and me.


John said...

Clamp the cars or better yet tow them away. They will claim dip immunity but being buggered about with no car or driver when they come out of some meeting or brothel might have some effect.

Oldrightie said...

I'm with John. Stop pussyfooting around. Surely this is akin to smuggling WMD in dip bags?

subrosa said...

Now there's an idea John. I forget about clamping because it's banned here. That's a lot of money involved. Worth a go with the happy clampers.

subrosa said...

Oh OR, I think you may be a little near the bone with that comment. As I understand it booze and tobacco are seldom smuggled in dip bags. ;)

Munguin said...

You can't clamp or tow away cars with diplomatic plates although they are subject to parking charges and restrictions. Either here or for British diplomatic cars in the USA/Suadi/Sierra Leone or wherever.

A way of arbitrating this matter should be found between the GLA and the diplomatic community. But good luck on getting the Tories to stand up to the USA in any way, and it is the USA that is leading this.

John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

"You can't clamp or tow away cars" Bosh. Get the clamper and lift-em up truck there and just do it. Should not is not cannot. Simple physical fact that we can do it. Yes - there will be aggro but tell them they can have their wheels back when they pay what they owe us. Couple of teams from Liverpool would clear the dip cars in a day.
'Arbitrating' Seems we have been pussy footing about with no result for some while. Negotiate from a position of strength - give us our money and we will let you have your cars back. If the spams and co get serious - good riddance. They withdraw an ambassador and we withdraw out troops. It is time this Nation stood up straight, called a spade a spade and set about regaining the prestige killed by nauseous Blair and bumbling Brown. God - I feel a verse of Land of Hope & Glory coming on.

subrosa said...

Oh no John, not Land of Hope and Glory!! But you're right. All these millions are being denied the people of London.

As for diplomatic immunity to criminals that should be stopped to. Right away.

subrosa said...

I'd agree the US are the initiators Munguin. I'm with John on this. Their diplomatic status means they live by the law. Just think, 25,000 people in London don't and that's not the criminal fraternity.

Surreptitious Evil said...

The Vienna convention cuts both ways. Article 34 exempts them from taxes "personal or real, national, regional or municipal," (although I note the US hypocrisy in applying this treaty by the letter yet weasel-wording around, for example, the Geneva conventions).

Article 29 "A diplomatic agent shall enjoy immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the receiving State. He shall also enjoy immunity from its civil and administrative jurisdiction" (with some exceptions.)

27(3) protects the diplomatic bag: "The diplomatic bag shall not be opened or detained."

All of these protect British diplomats worldwide. What's the aggro?

Anonymous said...


Florida governor Charlie Crist has urged Floridians to go swimming in Pensacola Beach. Kind of reminds one of Dumya telling New Yorkers to go shopping. If anything it should remind one who our appointed politicians work for. They work for corporate America and the owners of corporate America. If you cost them money they don’t fund your campaign and rig the vote for you.

Yeah Charlie I will jump in right behind you. I will also drink a glass of fluoride, be vaccinated with timersol mercury, aluminum, pig virus and squalene right after you. I will be walking right behind you in the next pro-nuclear world war three parade.

You don’t really expect a whore to take off her skirt and then ask/inquire with something akin to you were not really interested in sex were you?

No it doesn’t work that way with employees of the international Rothschild octopus. They do what they are told or go jobless like millions of other Americans. So jump in your skivys and plow into the ocean along with the methane, hydrogen sulfide, benzene, tar balls, dead marine life and corexit. You know corexit the stuff a former coast guard official says eats oil but also eats fish and humans as well boat hulls.

With your kind of leadership, how can we go wrong Charlie? I have an idea why not take that zio socialite wife of yours and head for the bunkers. I can see why you are not running again. Hell everybody is getting out of Florida these days. Who knows the next election if we can get a paper ballot approved we might actually have someone represent us who actually has been elected. There hasn’t been much of a party atmosphere in Tallahassee anyway lately since Jeb Bush invested all the retirement money in Haliburton.

Leave now Charlie and we won’t continue to ask about the rumored pedo party they threw for you during the campaign.


Munguin said...

SR/John etc you cannot clamp or tow away cars with diplomatic plates. It is contrary to the internationally agreed diplomatic code, so it is not bosh, it is an international agreement. If Westminster council or the GLA did that there would be a diplomatic incident and I could just see William Hague and David Cameron’s faces if that happened.

Great rant John but do you really want to run the country like that and become an international pariah over a few parking fines? Why not try standing on the white cliffs of Dover and singing land of hope and glory or rule Britannia at the top of your voice and see how much notice the rest of the world takes.

subrosa said...

The aggro appears to be that diplomat staff are not paying congestion charges SE. I see what the US means, but if 25,000 cars don't pay it, they're taking up the limited space available to residents.

subrosa said...

Thanks for your comment Mick. Very interesting angle there. Also the links.

subrosa said...

A few parking fines Munguin? £10m worth - a drop in the ocean to some of course.

I wonder about the GLA's books. Suspect these fines are still there as outstanding revenue. £10m in write-offs will make a substantial dent in them.

Munguin said...

S/R I thought the USA, our main ally, had only amassed £3.8millon in supposed fines. I guess we should start there and all go and sing land of hope and glory outside their embassy in Grosvenor Square. See you there? And John?

The fact of the matter is the diplomatic code needs to be adjusted to determine whether this is a tax or a charge. How difficult can that be? Get the Mayor of London and the US ambassador at a table and have them arbitrate this matter and then have the US include it in the diplomatic code, the rest will fall in line. It is not a question of cheating the people of London out of millions it is a question of whether the congestion charge is a tax or not and whether US diplomats in London are going to be treated the same way as British diplomats in Washington. This has been going on for so long I remember Ken Livingstone calling the US ambassador a “chiseller” when he was Mayor over this.

Anonymous said...

I suspect we might get away with the heavy hand with the less important diplomats... you know, the ones that don't matter... Nigeria, Sierra Leone etc.

It has always happened. A colleague of mine remembers it being occasionally mentioned in the 1950s. It was the Americans then.

But Britain spends its whole time on the international scene towing the American line. I suspect that if we try it with the Americans and we may find ourselves out of favour and if we make too much of a nuisance of ourselves with them, off the Security Council.

America can still do amazing things.

I wonder how the enormous British diplomatic Corps (let’s hope that that will be cut by 25%) deals with foreign laws which it is entitled.

Information about parking for diplomats in the English capital is included in this:

subrosa said...

Thoughtful post Tris and intriguing link. Many thanks.

subrosa said...

Oh Munguin, you're winding me up - but with little success. I have no intention of spending my valuable time going to London to go and sing outside any embassy. Haven't you heard the public aren't allowed within driving distance of many of them?

Your other point is a good one. Someone in government has to get a legal ruling on the congestion charge relating to diplomats.

I suspect unless Boris moves on this then it will be used in his election campaign.

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