Branding petrol retailers as "damning and criminal" in these challenging times is "sickening" and "desperate knee-jerk journalism", stressed PRA chairman Brian Madderson in response to a tweet and subsequent press release from Howard Cox of FairFuelUK.

The FairFuelUK media communications claimed that fuel wholesalers and oil companies were still keeping retail margins much higher than necessary during the coronavirus crisis while the media were still ignoring this "profiteering". Cox reiterated his campaign for an independent fuel pricing watchdog, claiming the conclusion of the Office of Fair Trading’s 2013 inquiry into fuel price competition that the market was operating well was "absolute claptrap."

Cox said the UK’s fuel supply chain had "dishonestly" held back March’s massive wholesale falls. "Petrol should be 98p and diesel 106ppl, instead it is averaging 10ppl higher. Even with 70% less fuel being sold, the dishonesty from these faceless businesses, using the coronavirus crisis as a smokescreen to maintain their profits, beggars belief," said Cox.

Madderson slammed the comments, stressing that the target of many petrol stations remains to keep open and provide continuity of service.