Hillary Clinton may have served as US First Lady, Senator for New York and Secretary of State, but all that failed to impress a Westminster City Council traffic warden who slapped an £80 parking ticket on her vehicle – reduced to £40 if the possible future leader of the free world pays up within 14 days.
It emerged on Tuesday that Mrs Clinton’s Mercedes was given the ticket as it waited for her on Friday outside Chatham House, where she was receiving a prize for “significant and impressive contribution to international diplomacy”.
According to a photographer, her bodyguards were less than diplomatic, leaping of out of the grey people carrier into the drizzle after the unidentified warden issued the ticket. Voices were raised, a badge was flashed and fingers pointed, but nothing fazed the attendant, something Londoners have long grown used to.
While this scene played out, Mrs Clinton was safely indoors expressing the view, during a question and answer session, that a “sensible adult conversation” was needed about the boundaries of state surveillance in the wake of the mass leaking of US files by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Despite her exemplary track record, she is currently unemployed and does not enjoy diplomatic status or number plates. But it would have cost the entourage of a woman worth an estimated £20 million only £3.30 to park in the coveted spot opposite the historic think tank in St James’s Square.
Parking in London of course might be easier for Mrs Clinton after 2016, if she succeeds Barack Obama as US president.
Cllr Daniel Astaire, Westminster City Council cabinet member for business, said the warden was just doing his job.
“The former US Secretary of State was parked for nearly 45 minutes without paying. I’m sure she will understand that we have to be fair to everyone, regardless of their status on the world stage.”
He added: “For future reference, Mrs Clinton can now download a new parking app for her iPhone which will tell her in real time where a parking space is available in Westminster, the only place in London where this is possible.”
It is not known if Mrs Clinton intends to pay the fine. The US embassy In London referred enquiries to Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation in New York. The foundation in turn did not respond.