Northern Ireland

Three filling stations selling laundered fuel close in Belfast

John Whiting
Image caption John Whiting said three of the filling stations had been closed in Belfast this month

Three so-called "pop-up" filling stations selling laundered fuel have been closed down in Belfast.

A leading customs and excise official said the sites were selling pure kerosene as diesel which would damage car engines.

John Whiting, HMRC's Head of Criminal Investigation for NI made the comments to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster.

He said three filling stations had been closed down in Belfast this month.

Mr Whiting said HMRC had been targeting legal filling stations selling laundered fuel and trying to "bring them to boot" by testing fuel in their tanks and checking their records.

He said that as a result there had been a significant amount of "pop-up" stations which were cheap to establish.

Commenting on the stations which had been closed down in Belfast, he said: "I'm not sure (if) they've re-appeared but the point about these premises is they are very clearly illicit.

"We're aware there are queues of cars trying to get into these places.

"I've been to one of these premises when it was working before. It was selling pure kerosene as diesel.

"The public are buying what they thought was diesel when in fact it was kerosene. That is very definitely going to damage the engine."

He said people who did this were "making a cheap deal today" and "getting a big bill with your garage tomorrow".