Tuesday, July 19, 2011
London Mayor Fines Obama for Not Paying 'Congestion Charge'
LONDON -- President Obama's motorcade has been fined for not paying the congestion charge in London, officials said today.
London's Evening Standard reported that Mayor Boris Johnson had warned Obama in May that US diplomats had not been paying the fees.
American diplomats have racked up an $8.5 million bill since 2003, London's Daily Mail newspaper reported.
At the time, London's mayor also publicly made clear that he wanted the $16 congestion charge paid for Obama's security vehicle "The Beast" and other cars in his motorcade.
"Our roads were not closed during the President's visit so his motorcade will pay. 'The Beast' will pay the charge, I'm delighted to say," Johnson said last month.
"We didn't charge the pope when he was here because all the roads were closed, so the popemobile was exempt. But this was different."
However, the White House has repeatedly ignored the request for payment, according to the newspaper, and now face a $200 fine.
"The Beast" escaped the congestion charge ticket because it "was travelling so slowly and closely to other vehicles in the presidential motorcade that its details could not be recorded by the street cameras," the newspaper reported.
Only one vehicle was issued with a congestion charge.
A spokesman for London's transportation said the city "pursues penalties from foreign registered vehicles that have not paid the charge. No congestion charge payments were made for the vehicles in the presidential motorcade."
The American Embassy defended its refusal to pay the charge, insisting it was "wholly in accordance" with the 1960 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
A spokesman said the treaty "prohibits the imposition of this sort of tax on diplomatic missions."