'Britain's former chief scientist has accused German car-makers of causing thousands of Britons' deaths after rigging diesel exhaust tests.
Sir David King said Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler have 'blood on their hands' over the experiments they undertook on monkeys and claimed that their decision to manipulate data on exhaust emissions had caused the deaths of large numbers of people in the UK.
In 2015 Volkswagen admitted to fitting cheat devices to 11 million cars worldwide that made their engines appear less polluting.
Sir David, who held the government position until 2007, said their behaviour was 'simply astonishing'.
Sir David told The Daily Telegraph: 'The number of early fatalities in Britain is really very, very large due to NOx (nitrogen oxide) air, with Governments across Europe encouraging diesel on the basis that the catalyst traps worked.
'These companies have blood on their hands - I say that without any doubt.'
His intervention comes as Thomas Steg, one of Volkswagen's most senior lobbyists, was suspended after taking 'full responsibility' for Volkswagen's involvement in the furore.
It comes after Steg was shown to have known about tests in which 10 java monkeys were locked in small cages and forced to breathe in diesel fumes from a VW Beetle for up to two hours while they watched cartoons.
The tests, carried out in 2014, were supposed to show that newer diesel technology filtered out more harmful particles than in the past.'
Read more: 'Car firms have blood on their hands': Britain's former chief scientist accuses Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler of causing thousands of Britons' deaths after rigging diesel exhaust tests
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