POLICE HAVE launched an investigation after thieves siphoned fuel from a pipeline running under Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s official country residence.
Police confirmed initial indications were that it had been “a well organised crime”.
A gang drilled their way into the pipeline, which passes through Chevening House estate, shared by Deputy Prime Minister Mr Clegg, who is the MP for Sheffield Hallam, and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.
The fuel was funnelled along a 1,600ft pipe to an area just outside the 3,500-acre estate near Sevenoaks, Kent, and pumped into huge plastic containers aboard lorries.
About 30,000 litres of fuel a day was stolen over seven months, with a value of £8.3m at pumps.
The theft was discovered on Wednesday after new security measures were introduced on Esso’s South East Pipeline, according to reports.
The line, 120 miles long, carries fuel from Fawley Refinery in Hampshire to Purfleet Fuel Terminal and Gatwick.
A Kent Police spokesman said: “Kent Police was notified of some tampering to a fuel pipeline in the Sevenoaks area on August 6.
“Initial indications are that this was a well-organised crime, employing highly specialist techniques to siphon fuel from pipelines which operate at very high pressure.”
A spokesman for the Cabinet Office said: “We are aware of an ongoing police investigation. For more details talk to Kent Police.”
Esso was not immediately available for comment.