An HM Customs & Excise (HMRC) prosecution of petrol station owners for red diesel fraud has been abandoned after a linked trial collapsed.

The story was covered by the BBC on its website and on its news programmes on Sunday April 29.

In its TV report it showed pictures of a filling station in Birmingham and said it was one of several that would have been involved in the prosecution if it had gone ahead.

It reported that after a four-year investigation by HMRC into an alleged £500,000 red diesel VAT fraud, the first trial began in January at Liverpool Crown Court.

But a month into the trial, a vast amount of information that should have been disclosed to the defence was identified on the laptop of the HMRC investigating officer, Daniel Grundy.

The prosecution asked for an adjournment to sift through the material that should have been disclosed.

But judge Trevor-Jones refused and the trial collapsed.

In his ruling, he said: "I accept that the failure here can properly be described as negligent, but it was negligence to a lamentable degree.

"It is indicative of a more systemic failure going beyond the omissions of just one officer."

He added: "The competence, even credibility, of the investigative team has clearly been tainted."

The BBC report said the same disclosure failings meant that a linked trial of petrol station owners, due to begin a few weeks later, was also abandoned.

Lawyers in the case estimate the two trials cost in excess of £2m of public money.

An HMRC spokesperson refused to confirm details of the BBC report saying: “HMRC does not discuss individual cases.

"We fully accept there were failings in this trial and we are working closely with the Crown Prosecution Service to see what lessons can be learned.”