More than 80,000 litres of suspected illicit fuel has been seized from four petrol stations in England and Scotland following a three-day operation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

HMRC officers temporarily closed petrol stations in Leeds, Motherwell, Cowdenbeath and the Hillington area of Glasgow after discovering about 73,000 litres of fuel that was thought to be illegal.

Two vehicles were also seized in Loanhead, Midlothian, along with a further 7,000 litres of suspected illicit fuel. The estimated duty loss of all the seized fuel is about £56,000.

A 30-year-old man from the Crossmaglen area of County Armagh was arrested in Leeds and taken to Scotland for interview. He has been released pending further investigation.

The seizures and arrest follow a suspected fuel laundering plant in Northern Ireland being dismantled by HMRC officers. The plant was thought to have the potential to produce more than 10 million litres of illicit fuel every year. Two men were arrested, questioned, and then released on bail while investigations continue.

Joe Hendry, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “Fuel laundering is unregulated and dangerous. Illicit fuel is sold at reduced prices and motorists may think they are getting a good deal because it is cheaper.

“I would caution them to think again as the true cost is far from a bargain.”

HMRC has declined to identify the four sites where fuel was seized.