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The RHA has issued a “categorical” denial that it triggered the petrol pump crisis by leaking remarks made by a BP executive at a private government meeting last week.

The claim was made in the Mail on Sunday by “a senior government source” who also threatened to “deal with the RHA” after the crisis is over.

The claims have been slammed by RHA as a “disgraceful” attempt at diverting attention away from the government’s handling of the HGV driver shortage.

The row erupted as towns and cities across Britain witnessed huge lines of cars queuing for petrol after it emerged BP was shutting a number of its fuel stations due to the lack of HGV driver to deliver the fuel.

The panic buying quickly led to fuel shortages across the country with Cabinet meeting today to consider whether to bring in the army to help with fuel deliveries.

The Mail on Sunday article, quoting a “senior government source” claimed that RHA MD of policy Rod McKenzie had “selectively” leaked remarks made by a BP executive at a private government meeting and “weaponised” the remarks to deflect blame away from the haulage industry for the driver shortage crisis.

The source also claimed RHA regularly leaked information from meeting it had attended with government officials.

RHA said it “completely refutes” the Mail on Sunday’s claims. In a statement issued today it said: “Firstly, Rod McKenzie was not in the meeting where the BP issue was discussed.

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“Secondly, he is not the source of the leak. The first he heard of the comments was when journalists rang him asking for comment after ITV News story had been broadcast.

“He was not, as the government source claimed, “aware of the comments” and certainly did not “weaponise” them in subsequent TV interviews. Indeed he repeatedly stressed the need not to panic buy and that there were adequate fuel stocks.

“It is also completely untrue to say that the “RHA leaks every meeting we have with them.”

The statement continued: “The RHA believes this disgraceful attack on a member of its staff is an attempt to divert attention away from their recent handling of the driver shortage crisis.”

The RHA has repeatedly clashed with government ministers over their handling of Brexit and the resulting driver shortage, having repeatedly warned government officials and ministers since Brexit negotiations began in 2016 that any deal to leave Europe had to find ways to protect the supply chain and ensure there would be enough drivers to replace those returning to Europe, following the UK’s exit from the EU.

The nature of the government’s relationship with RHA is made clear in the article in which the senior government source goes on to threaten the RHA.

The source states: “The RHA leak every meeting they have with us. They have a rap sheet as long as their arm.”

“McKenzie is just a moaning Remainer and he and the RHA are entirely responsible for this panic and chaos. We will deal with them when this is over.”

The row comes as the government meets this morning to decide whether to send in the troops to deal with the petrol pump crisis. Yesterday Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng agreed to temporarily exempt the fuel industry from the Competition Act 1998 under the Downstream Oil Protocol which allows the oil industry to work together to ensure fuel deliveries are prioritised, without breaching competition rules.