Alan Singleton, 50, and Simon Bruno, 28, were each shot in the head by a gunman who walked into the Chestergate Auto Centre, Stockport, Greater Manchester, and opened fire without warning. Police last night said the motive for the attack was not known.
Detectives refused to confirm reports that the inspectors were looking into allegations of a stolen MoT certificates racket, although a spokeswoman for the Department of Transport confirmed they were responsible for spot checks on garages carrying out MoT tests.
The attack happened at 3.40pm. Greater Manchester police said the inspectors were sitting in the office of the workshop when a man armed with a shotgun opened the door and opened fire. The men died 'almost immediately'.
Mr Singleton, of Skelmersdale, Merseyside, and Mr Bruno, of Salford, Greater Manchester, worked at the Goods Vehicle Testing Centre in nearby Bredbury.
Detectives were waiting to interview two mechanics who witnessed the attack, although they were described as being in shock. The garage, which carries out MoT tests, changed hands about six months ago. Roads nearby were sealed off after the attack but the gunman, who may have had an accomplice, escaped.
Ron Oliver, chief executive of the department's Vehicle Inspectorate, said: 'I am extremely saddened and shocked to hear of the tragic death of two loyal and well respected colleagues during the course of duty.'
The market for stolen MoT certificates, which allow defective and dangerous vehicles to pass without costly repairs, is thought to be worth up to pounds 6m a year nationally. Hugh Roberts, of the Retail Motor Industry Federation, said inspectors carried out spot-checks and passed information to the police.
He said there had been an increase recently in the number of pads of pass certificates stolen from garages. Last year, the 120,000 pads stolen were fetching up to pounds 6,000 on the black market. Certificates costing pounds 24 in legitimate tests were changing hands for up to pounds 60, he said.
The garage was sealed off last night as forensic teams combed the area for clues. A Home Office pathologist was carrying out post- mortem examinations.
Two cars, understood to have been owned by the two victims - one a metallic E-registered Rover, the other a white B-registered Sierra - were still in the small car park at the garage.Reuse content