A sales manager who forged solicitors' letters to secure MOT garage applications was handed an 18-month suspended sentence at Newport Crown Court last week for knowingly providing false information.

This is the first ever prosecution for providing fraudulent solicitors' letters as part of MOT garage applications.

The court heard that Thomas Richard Woods, a sales manager for Oakmain, which specialises in the installation and service of garage equipment for independent garages and MOT stations, had provided counterfeit solicitors' letters to help secure MOT testing station status.

Solicitors' letters are one of the supporting documents required to open or change an MOT test station and show proof the business has all the rights it needs to be operating.

Woods’ work included providing technical support, training customers on new equipment and managing finance for maintenance servicing and equipment calibration.

The company also completed the MOT Station application (VT01) form on behalf of its customers, which is needed to set up an MOT test station.

DVSA examiners first uncovered evidence of Woods’ fraudulent activity after carrying out a regular routine MOT garage audit. The offences were carried out between November 2019 and October 2021.

Woods was convicted of three charges of providing counterfeit solicitors letters to help secure MOT testing station status.

He was given a custodial sentence of 18 months in respect of each of these offences to run concurrently, suspended for 18 months because of his previous good character and personal circumstances.

He was ordered to carry out unpaid work of 220 hours, pay prosecution costs of £4,736.20 together with a victim surcharge of £149. Payment to be made at the rate of £150 per month.

The judge said that in forging solicitors' letters and lying about legal situations, Woods had sought to blame other people for his actions, had compromised the MOT system deliberately undermining it and had also undermined confidence in solicitors.

The sentence given also took into consideration the harm caused to Wood’s employer, the company’s clients, DVSA and two firms of solicitors.

The DVSA’s director of enforcement, Marian Kitson, said: “Applications to be an MOT testing station are made in good faith by the applicants concerned.

“Motorists need to feel confident they can rely on MOT testing stations to carry out any necessary work and garages using professional services should expect the service to be legitimate.

“This case shows the DVSA will take action against those who abuse the MOT testing scheme for their own gain.”