Belfast Telegraph

PSNI probing MOT 'pass for cash' allegations after businessman's warning

By Noel McAdam

Police have launched an investigation into claims that Driver and Vehicle Agency staff are taking bribes to pass cars for MOT.

It follows allegations that vehicles are being given certificates without full tests in return for cash.

A businessman who called the alleged practice a 'pass for cash' scandal passed his claims onto the authorities overseeing MOT test centres.

The alleged whistleblower, who wishes to remain anonymous, claimed the standard fee in Belfast was £150.

"I believe public safety is at risk and the public has the right to know," said the man, whose business puts vehicles through the MOT test.

"I have no doubt that this is a problem which is occurring across the entire testing agency."

A series of letters and emails seen by the Belfast Telegraph alleged it was possible for cars to be passed even if they had excessive rot, poor brakes and problems with lights.

Detectives from the PSNI's reactive and organised crime branch are investigating.

The police said in a statement:

"Detectives are investigating to establish if any offences have been committed. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this time."

One letter sent to former Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard said: "With the number of collisions on our roads seeming to have reached a plateau over the last few years - in the region of 5,700-6,100 which I think you will agree is a excessive amount - I am led to question how many of these were possibly down to a fault with vehicles which are not in a roadworthy condition."

The businessman said the scam was possible because around half of the tests primarily involve visual checks.

On emissions, for example, it is claimed the testing device can be left on the ground, rather in the exhaust. And on headlights it is alleged that examiners can sanction a pass even if the computer system involved recommends a fail.

One letter sent to a senior Driver and Vehicle Agency manager said: "I have recently found out that a sum of money can be paid to seemingly carry out a normal vehicle test, yet will give you a certificate of road worthiness, regardless of the condition of your vehicle.

"Whether the vehicle has excessive rot, warning lights, poor brakes etc, for a sum of £100, including your test fee of £30.50, your vehicle will obtain a pass, although I'm led to believe this fee is £150 in the Belfast area."

An email added: "I have presented over 250 vehicles for test through my business, and my concerns now lie for the safety, not only for myself and the general public, but also that of my long-standing customers.

"These are customers whom I will also be advising that they may require a further MOT, and will be encouraging them to request such a test free of charge. A suggestion I will also be making to my other business contacts.

"While you may feel I am being unreasonable or foolish, the facts are that some vehicles on our roads are in receipt of MOT certificates due only to examiner(s) taking cash in exchange for their certificates."

The businessman added: "The only bit they have to work more round is the brakes, but again they seem to have their ways.

"The last stage of the test is totally visual, so they can say they saw nothing wrong, when really it was faulty or bad tyres, parts loose and so on.

"They just overlook it so a very dangerous car could still get through MOT."

A statement from the Department for Infrastructure said: "The department is aware of this correspondence and has responded. The issues raised are being dealt with in line with existing procedures."

Belfast Telegraph


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