Did Clinton Stiff London Pub?

ByABC News
December 15, 2000, 7:26 PM

L O N D O N, Dec. 15 -- A West London pub owner says Bill Clinton walked out without paying for a meal but a presidential aide insists the owner said it was on the house.

President Clinton was enjoying his last visit to Britain while still in power when he popped into The Portobello Gold on Thursday for a quick bite to eat.

Owner Mike Bell says he was delighted to accommodate Clinton, along with a swarm of secret service agents, on his surprise visit at least until he realized the most powerful man on earth had left without paying.

They bloody well did not pay the bill, Bell was quoted as saying to one British newspaper.

The story caused a stir in news outlets around the world.

British tabloid newspaper The Mirror says it volunteered to pay for the presidents meal to avoid an international incident.

But it also grabbed the chance to run with the headline We Pay Bill for Bill splashed over its front page.

After the story was broadcast on ABCNEWS World News Tonight, a member of the Clinton administration called to say an aide offered to pay the bill before the president left.

Compensated With Publicity

The presidential tab came to a total of $36.22, for a large chicken ciabatta sandwich, a half a pint of beer, a helping of prawns and smoked trout and pecan nut pate.

But the pub has since gotten more than its moneys worth especially in apologies and publicity.

Theyve paid twice now, pub chef Boss Goodman said with a broad grin, referring to the tabloid and an apologetic American embassy that insisted on picking up the tab.

He was more impressed with the presidents appetite than his apparent reluctance to pay.

I wouldnt quite say he did a runner. I just dont think it occurred to him to pay, a more diplomatic landlord Bell said later when the matter was settled.

Is Chelsea the Next Deadbeat?

This is not the first time the first family has left a member of the catering trade less than amused. First lady Hillary failed to tip a waitress during a campaign stop at an upstate New York diner early this year, a gaffe seized upon by then-senatorial rival New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.