Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Letter from the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee to the Trading Standards Service

  The Committee has received allegations (in the context of its enquiry into illegal road fuels in Northern Ireland) that smuggled, chemically modified or adulterated fuel is sometimes offered from premises operated by, or under contract to, leading fuel supply brands, whithout their knowledge and consent. It is also alleged that such fuel is sometimes offered by premises got up to look very similar to premises offering leading brands of fuel, sometimes as a result of non-removal, at the end of a supply contract, of some or all of the distinctive signalisation associated with the brand, thus misleading customers as to the provenance of the product.

  It appears to the Committee that the offering of fuel supplied other than by or under the authority of the brand owner, or seeking to imply that the fuel is from a particular source (or of a particular quality) when it is not, may constitute offences under trading standards legislation regarding misleading product descriptions. I have therefore been asked to seek the views of the Trading Standards Service as to whether, in its view, trading standards offences are committed in the circumstances described above, and what action is taken by the Service when evidence of such offences comes to light. On the latter point, the Committee would in particular be interested to learn what action was taken, or is to be taken, under trading standards legislation, in each of the six cases referred to in the Department's January 1999 memorandum where tests had indicated that the fuel had been "laundered" or extended.

2 February 1999

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