A 23-year-old man from Northern Ireland has been arrested after HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) seized almost 20,000 litres of suspected laundered fuel, in a load of fish, at Gladstone Docks in Liverpool.

HMRC Road Fuel Testing Unit officers were checking ferry traffic arriving at the port on the morning of Wednesday February 19 when they uncovered 20 containers of illegal diesel in a lorry. The load, which had arrived by ferry from Dublin, was described as fresh fish. It has an estimated loss of £16,000 in UK taxes and duties.

The vehicle was seized by HMRC and the illegal fuel will be environmentally disposed of or used to fuel the National Grid. Investigations continue into this seizure.

Sandra Smith, assistant director, criminal investigation at HMRC, said: “Our activity today has stopped a large amount of illicit fuel entering the legitimate market, preventing further revenue loss and helping legitimate traders fight unfair competition. It is wrong that honest businesses should be undercut by criminals and those involved in making or selling laundered fuel. Fuel fraud is organised criminality.

“Buying illicit fuel not only funds crime, it supports and encourages these dangerous activities within our communities. If anyone has information about fuel fraud we would encourage them to contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 595000.”