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Doctor set to take on supermarket giant Tesco over contaminated petrol sold at garage in Faversham

By Bess Browning

A scientist says he will take Tesco to court if the company does not admit it was at fault in causing damage to his vehicle with contaminated petrol.

In December, Tesco admitted a water leak in one of its fuel tanks in Faversham led to a handful of customers suffering faults.

At the time, Tesco spokesman Joe Chapman confirmed there was a water leak in one of the fuel tanks in the filling station.

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Dr Richard Newell. Picture: Chris Davey
Dr Richard Newell. Picture: Chris Davey

We reported how both Daniel Peters, 33, and Janet Fever, 59, said that hundreds of pounds of damage were caused to their cars after they filled up at the station in Crescent Road with the premium unleaded Momentum.

But Tesco said their claims were unfounded. This week, Dr Richard Newell, from Conyer, says he suffered similar problems to Mr Peters and Mrs Fever, with a garage finding a large amount of water in his fuel tank, causing the car to break down.

Dr Newell went back to Tesco straight afterwards and warned the staff there about the problem.

He says the management there were more than helpful and you “could not fault” their response. But in writing to head office, Dr Newell said he was incredibly disappointed with their denial that they were to blame for the problems.

VIDEO: Daniel Peters says hundreds of pounds of damage caused to his car after filling up with Tesco fuel. Ben Kennedy reports

In response to Dr Newell’s case, Mr Chapman said: “We were sorry to hear of the inconvenience Dr Newell experienced.

“However, having investigated his claim, we remain very confident that our fuel was not at fault.

"We had the tank in question independently tested for water leakage and reported no problems.

"We are in touch with the few customers known to be affected by the issue which did occur at our filling station on December 6, and will continue to work hard for them.”

Marie Wenham noticed the gift when she was feeding her cat
Marie Wenham noticed the gift when she was feeding her cat

Dr Newell, 77, said: “I am not looking for compensation in this matter.

"I am seeking an apology, a full explanation about where the water came from, why the water detection equipment was not working and an assurance that this will not happen again – why would I fill up here if I don’t know whether this will happen again?

“Fortunately I can afford to pay for the damage. But for many people, paying out £600 or more just before Christmas is a very serious matter.

“I am a very experienced scientist and it is very clear that my fuel was contaminated with water and it is easy to have some idea of when the water got into the fuel.

"It is wholly irresponsible for a huge corporate company like themselves to not hold their hands up and admit it was them.We all know that mistakes can occur.”

Dr Newell wants Tesco to apologise. Picture: Chris Davey
Dr Newell wants Tesco to apologise. Picture: Chris Davey

In a letter to Tesco, Dr Newell says: “If you conveniently choose to deny any liability for water contamination in the petrol I obtained from your Momentum supply, it basically assumes that sometime in the hour between the time I filled the car up at your store and the time the vehicle broke down I must have poured water into the fuel tank of my car!

“I am sure you would agree that this would be ludicrous defence for you to adopt should this matter come before a small claims court. I am considering what action I should take regarding possible legal action.”

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