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Car manufacturer VW must face a full investigation after it was revealed it had used software in a number of its US diesel models to potentially fool emissions tests, UK lawyer Nick Freeman has said.

In some instances it is alleged the true level of emissions was 40 times more toxic than VW’s claimed results.

This revelation comes a month after the German car giant was named as one of a number of manufacturers who had knowingly withheld information from customers about security flaws in the remote locking systems of certain models.

Mr Freeman said that whilst the latest VW bombshell had been uncovered in America – and led to it recalling more than 250,000 cars there – the company is now under huge pressure to convince its UK and worldwide customers of the provenance of their claimed emissions.

Mr Freeman, who is regarded as the country’s leading motoring expert, said: “Until a month ago VW was without question one of the motor industry’s most trusted and reputable brands.

“We are now aware that VW has treated its customer base with contempt and has deceived them in two material respects. The VW brand has been irreparably tarnished.

“If it is discovered that the same software programme has been used in other countries, this will have major implications not only for the company, but also for motorists and governments.

“For example, a lower level of emissions means the motorist pays less tax and the government receives less revenue.”

He added: “I would therefore recommend that all owners of VW diesel cars require their dealer to conduct an immediate emissions test at VW’s expense to confirm the true levels of emissions.

“It is vitally important that motorists trust car manufacturers, and in circumstances such as this, where there has been a flagrant breach, I would recommend the head of VW in this country is hauled before a Commons select committee to explain to MPs how these deceptions have occurred.

“Not only do their cars have a security system which is susceptible to car thieves, but there is now the potential for the same vehicles to be emitting far more C02 than advertised.

“Speaking as a lawyer, but wearing my PR hat, this is not good news and will involve extensive and expensive litigation for VW.”