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VW defiant on UK dieselgate compensation

The boss of Volkswagen UK has said his company has “not misled anybody” and does not owe any compensation to British drivers, despite paying billions of pounds to customers in America.

The firm has reached a hugely expensive settlement in the United States after adapting its cars to produce inaccurate results during emissions tests. In essence, they appeared more environmentally friendly than they actually were, breaching American regulations.

But in the UK, and across Europe, the question of which rules have been breached has proved much more contentious. And so has the matter of whether any compensation is due, which is why boss Paul Willis was called back to appear in front of the Transport Select Committee.

This was his third appearance in front of these MPs in just 17 months, and proved as fractious and combative as the previous occasions.

VW says no UK owners have lost out financially
Video: VW facing legal backlash on emissions

When he first appeared, he had offered an apology at the start of his testimony, but this time he stuck to one line – that VW had done nothing wrong.

As before, he was asked about so-called defeat devices – an expression that Mr Willis pointedly refused to acknowledge – and he was adamant that customers had not been deceived.

“We did not falsify information and we completely refute that we have misled anybody,” said Mr Willis. “You cannot compare the United States and Europe, because the regulations are very different.

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Image Caption: VW is facing a bill of over 20 billion dollars in the US

“In the US, technical fixes do not get the cars back to compliance with the regulations, but in Europe they do, and they can be done in 20 or 30 minutes.

“There is no evidence that there has been any degradation in the resale value of these vehicles – so there is no loss. There is no legal basis for compensation.”

Yet while it denies doing anything wrong, VW has been carrying out remedial work on more than a million vehicles across the UK – Volkswagen cars and commercial vehicles, as well as Audi, Seat and Skoda cars.

Lower Saxony Governor Weil Visits Volkswagen Factory
Image Caption: VW says it has fixed 470,000 of 1.2 million cars in the UK so far

Around 20,000 are being fixed each week, with the programme due to be completed by the end of the year.

Mr Willis maintained this was not an admission of wrongdoing, but rather an effort to reassure customers by “removing any doubt”.

His words, carefully chosen, did not impress everyone. The Transport Minister, John Hayes, said it was “not true” that VW had done everything requested by the Government, and called on the company to publish its own internal report into the emissions scandal.

Damon Parker, the lawyer who is leading a group legal action to pursue compensation for VW drivers, told Sky News that more than 30,000 people had already signed up, but expects the figure to rise.

He believes drivers may be in line for compensation of around £3,000 each.

If those sums were matched across Europe, the world’s biggest carmaker could be faced with another multi-billion pound headache.

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