London LibDems: C-charge dodging Embassies owe every Londoner £5

More than £40m in unpaid congestion charge fines is owed by foreign embassies

More than £40m in unpaid congestion charge fines is owed by foreign embassies

Londoners are each owed £5 by those embassies which persist in evading the Congestion Charge despite government and TfL advice that the charge is a legally levied charge and not, as the offenders insist, a tax from which they’re exempt.

Figures released by the London Assembly Liberal Democrats show that the amount owed by embassies for non-payment of Congestion Charge and Penalty Charge Notices soared by more than 40% during 2009. The figure now exceeds £40 million with the US Embassy the worst offender despite previously accepting their obligations to pay.

Liberal Democrat London Assembly transport spokesperson Caroline Pidgeon, called on London Mayor Boris Johnson to show “consistent and strong leadership” in the battle to persuade non-paying embassies to live up to their obligations.

Pidgeon commented: “Boris Johnson has done Londoners no favours with his flip flopping on this issue. On one day he mistakenly calls the Congestion Charge a tax and then the next day he tries to persuade embassies that it is a charge. It is time he showed some consistent and strong leadership and ensured that Londoners were no longer denied many millions of much needed money.”

Official figures show that the vast majority – 74% – of embassies and diplomatic missions in the capital pay the Congestion Charge.


  1. Damian Hockney says

    Some of you will have seen my posts on this, practically every time it comes up. The main issue is, without doubt, the issue of taxation and I have argued for four years that it is a tax and given clear reasons. Those who say it is not a tax, give no reasons for their stance and talk about having “advice” that proves their case. They never publish it, or say where they have it from. Above all, I have always challenged those who say they have “advice” to publish the advice. Tax lawyers for the USA and the EU have made clear it IS a tax. The Russian Ambassador has offered the same advice and been possibly the most helpful of all. These offers are neither acknowledged not acted upon by any of those who claim it is not a tax. By and large they want to use the matter as a political football. Can I make a suggestion? We can go round and round like this forever. Can the two parties simply agree that legal advice on both sides should be published?

  2. says

    The claim that the Congestion Charge is supposedly a tax is directly challenged in the report by Caroline Pidgeon, the Libeal Democrat London Assembly Transport spokesperson.

    The report can be seen in the reports and briefings section of the group’s website at – the specific link is:

  3. Damian Hockney says

    But Mark, where in this report from the LibDems is a section headed “advice from tax lawyers/experts”? The sources used to quote that it is not a tax rely upon a Times article(!), Jack Straw for HMG a few years ago in a view which was weasel worded (it says that the government thinks it is not a tax but gives no advice source!) and the OECD stance is based upon the untested and flawed logic of the claims of both Mayor and TfL regarding the use of the funds raised. The OECD advice is broad and not specific and has has been given on the assumption that what everyone says will stand up to scrutiny. It most certainly will not. It is on the basis of scrutiny of these claims that the EU and US tax experts challenged the definition. No wonder no-one wants to ask them to let TfL have that advice…because it proves that, in this context, the C-Charge (sadly for them) is a tax. I advised the Mayor four years ago that the price rise of 60% was the clincher argument for those who claimed the C-Charge was a tax. As indeed it proved to be. You cannot just add 60% to a tax in this context without also specifying clearly why and for what purpose the extra revenue will go. I advised this before the EU meeting and I advised the Standard also at the time before the EU meeting that the EU would make this definition. Sorry but the definition of taxation is the bane of the lives of many and not just a matter of a government saying ‘it’s not a tax because we say so’.