The DfT's potential action is related to the UK’s regulatory role in relation to the Czech-based car maker. The Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) was responsible for granting EU-type approval of technical fixes for cars based on a number of VW’s diesel engines, which feature the test-cheating software.
A successful prosecution depends on whether it can be proven Skoda officials knowingly made false statements when the cars were submitted for approval.
An official comment from Skoda said: “Skoda has not been notified by the Department for Transport of any intention to seek to prosecute. Skoda continues to cooperate fully with the DFT and the Vehicle Certification Agency, and productive ongoing discussions are underway with the UK’s regulators in relation to the NOx emission testing issue.”
The move was revealed in a letter to the House of Commons Transport Committee from transport minister Robert Goodwill, which published it on 6 June.
Criminal counsel was instructed earlier this year but “it would be premature, and potentially damaging to any prospective prosecution” to discuss the matter further at this point, Goodwill wrote in the letter. The DfT continues to collaborate with other prosecuting authorities from across the EU, he added.
Goodwill also noted VW has now started applying technical fixes to some of the 1.2m cars affected in the UK, following consent by the German authorities. The VCA is still discussing the approval of a technical solution for Skoda cars.
Additional reporting by Rachel Burgess