US refuses to pay congestion fines

Hopes that a new, greener US ambassador would change the policy over paying congestion charges in London have been dashed.

The US state department said that Louis Susman, the nation's new man in the UK capital, will not pay off the estimated £3,478,200 fines that have been built up because it is a tax.

Transport for London had hoped to finally get the lump sum, but Washington will stand by its original policy, saying that visiting diplomats should be immune from taxes.

Other countries have adopted a similar stance for the London charges, with £28 million owed in total. However, America is the the most frequent offenders - outstripping both Russia, which owes £2.6 million, and Japan, with £2.3 million in fines.

A spokesman for the department of state said: "There has been no change in policy regarding the congestion tax. This is a long standing US policy and is not changed by the change in ambassador."

"We believe the charge to be a tax that is prohibited by various treaties."

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