Page last updated at 12:17 GMT, Friday, 5 September 2008 13:17 UK

Chaos at £20,000 petrol giveaway

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Bargain hunters brought gridlock to nearby streets

A stunt in which £20,000 of petrol was given away in north London to promote a computer game has been criticised as "irresponsible and dangerous".

Traffic was gridlocked outside the Last Stop garage in Finsbury Park as drivers queued for £40-worth of free fuel each.

The promotion began at 0630 BST and ended about four hours later.

Lynne Featherstone, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, said: "Whilst a lucky few might have got free petrol, hundreds of residents have faced misery".

The Liberal Democrat said: "Trying to recreate Venezuelan-style fuel riots on the streets of London is completely irresponsible and downright dangerous.

"Hundreds of local residents have faced misery on their daily journeys this morning.

"They deserve an apology for being the victims of such an ill thought-out media stunt."

Queuing cars

The stunt was by Electronic Arts, to promote the Mercenaries 2: World in Flames game.

Security staff brought in to control the traffic and deal with rowdy customers had to calm down one resident who waited 10 minutes to get out of his driveway.

Another angry resident who lives near the garage, but did not want to be named, said the stunt was "totally irresponsible".

She said: "What an extraordinary thing to do. I can't believe they've been allowed to do it.

"This area is usually very quiet but look at it now, there's cars queuing everywhere. It's just creating unnecessary problems."

A queue of about 40 cars snaked its way from the petrol station as more and more customers arrived for their free fuel.

Car horns sounded repeatedly as drivers on the other side of the road got snarled up in the congestion.

'Genius idea'

But customers filling up for nothing were very happy.

Prince Davis, 37, who queued patiently for a quarter of an hour for free petrol, said: "This is a genius idea, whoever thought of this should be promoted.

"I'll definitely be buying the game, you're never too old to play computer games."

Louise Marchant, from Electronic Arts, said the scenes of queuing mimicked aspects of the game.

She explained: "It's set in Venezuela, you play a mercenary and fuel is used as a currency."




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