VW 'dieselgate' payout offer outrageously low, says Sadiq Khan

London mayor urges government to take action, saying pledged settlement in emissions cheating scandal is far too low

Sadiq Khan has called on the government to secure proper compensation from Volkswagen for the “dieselgate” scandal, saying the £1.1m pledged so far was outrageous.

The London mayor said the settlement was far too low compared with the £12bn payout achieved by US authorities for VW’s use of sophisticated “defeat devices” to cheat emissions tests.

In a letter to the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, Khan also urged the government to secure other concessions equivalent to those obtained by the US authorities. He wants UK VW owners to have a buy-back option and compensation for cities such as London, which is estimated to have up to 80,000 VW cars that have a defeat device installed.

“‘Dieselgate’ is a global health scandal, but more than 12 months after the use of so-called defeat devices came to light, the government is running scared from its regulatory responsibility to take action on VW,” Khan said.

“In the US, the authorities have secured over £12bn but so far our government has only secured an offering of a mere £1.1m – which is simply outrageous. I am now urging Chris Grayling to stand up for the British public and come forward with an urgent, strong plan of action. In London alone, thousands of Londoners unwittingly bought VW cars unaware that their ‘dirty’ diesel engines were contributing to London’s toxic air.”

He suggested compensation could fund a national diesel scrappage scheme but more pressingly wants the government to use its regulatory powers to remove affected vehicles from the streets.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan makes a speech in July 2016 at Great Ormond Street Hospital on how he is going to tackle pollution in the capital. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

His intervention, which follows a letter sent to VW bosses demanding compensation for Londoners, comes days after the European commission began legal action against the UK and six other EU countries for failing to act against car emissions cheating.

The UK is one of four countries accused of issuing approvals for VW Group cars and not applying national provisions or penalties, despite the company’s use of illegal software.

The letter to Grayling says: “Given the global scale of Volkswagen Group’s use of ‘defeat devices’, and the urgent national priority ascribed to improving air quality – especially by tackling diesel emissions – I am surprised you have not been more assertive in using your regulatory powers to secure vital action from Volkswagen to begin addressing these challenges.”

Khan urged the transport secretary to set out what urgent regulatory action he intended to take. He asked for information on the extent to which the defeat device software helped the vehicles obtain approval, so he can consider what options are open for him to intervene directly “given the lack of progress”.

The mayor wants VW to reimburse Transport for London £2.5m in lost congestion charge revenue, resulting from the defeat devices. He plans to use the money to raise awareness and reduce exposure to air pollution at schools in some of the most polluted parts of London.

The US Department of Justice reached a near $15bn dollar settlement with VW, including $10.03bn to compensate consumers and $4.7bn to mitigate the additional pollution and invest in green vehicle technology.

A Department for Transport spokesman said it had taken swift action to protect UK consumers from VW’s “unacceptable actions”. He added: “We were the first country in Europe to complete our own tests (April 2016) to ensure the issue was not industry-wide.

“We continue to push VW to take action to compensate the UK consumer. Transport minister John Hayes recently met with the MD for VW UK, Paul Willis, to reaffirm the government’s calls for compensation and press for a fix to affected cars to be carried out as quickly as possible.”


Haroon Siddique

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Sadiq Khan asks car manufacturers to give funds towards tackling London’s toxic air
Mayor has written to BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen urging them to contribute funding to help combat UK pollution as they have done in Germany

Matthew Taylor

06, Oct, 2017 @9:34 AM

Article image
Emissions scandal: VW showing 'utter contempt' for Londoners, says Khan
London mayor accuses Volkswagen of making the UK a laughing stock over refusal to pay £2.5m in compensation while it’s paid billions to US customers

Matthew Taylor

24, Jul, 2017 @12:44 PM

Article image
London to introduce £10 vehicle pollution charge, says Sadiq Khan
Mayor says owners of more polluting cars will have to pay extra levy from October to drive within congestion charge zone

Rowena Mason Deputy political editor

17, Feb, 2017 @10:43 AM

Article image
Poorest Londoners most at risk from toxic air, Sadiq Khan says
Mayor joined by Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, whose daughter’s death was linked to pollution, at clean air summit

Damien Gayle

17, Feb, 2022 @4:21 PM

Article image
Green groups accuse Sadiq Khan of betrayal over east London tunnel
Critics of £1bn Silvertown tunnel highlight pollution risk and say mayor of London was against idea during election campaign

Matthew Weaver

04, Oct, 2016 @12:20 PM

Article image
Doctors urge Sadiq Khan to cancel Silvertown tunnel over pollution fears
GPs tell London mayor the ‘environmental hazard’ will disproportionately affect capital’s poorest people

Damien Gayle

24, Feb, 2022 @12:24 PM

Article image
Sadiq Khan faces calls from Labour to scrap Silvertown road tunnel
Shadow minister says £1.2bn project should be ditched in favour of green transport links

Matthew Taylor

07, Sep, 2020 @6:00 AM

Article image
London's £10 T-charge comes into effect in fight against toxic car fumes
Drivers of older, more polluting petrol and diesel cars in centre of capital now liable for fee on top of congestion charge

Kevin Rawlinson

23, Oct, 2017 @10:04 AM

Article image
Air pollution: Sadiq Khan calls for ban on wood-burning stoves
London mayor cites figures showing that the home stoves, used in 16% of households, produce up to a third of all the capital’s fine-particle pollution

Patrick Greenfield

29, Sep, 2017 @12:08 AM

Article image
Volkswagen settles initial ‘dieselgate’ claims with £193m payout
Claimants in England and Wales to receive more than £2,100 each after joining legal action against carmaker

Jasper Jolly

25, May, 2022 @3:40 PM