PROSECUTORS are to justify their decision not to pursue criminal charges against the driver of the fatal Glasgow bin lorry crash today.
Solicitor General Lesley Thomson QC will explain the Crown’s position regarding Harry Clarke to the Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) after Sheriff John Beckett QC asked the Crown Office to clarify its position.
I was positive and I felt sorry for the lorry driverMarie Weatherall
It comes as the family of one victim and survivors called for Clarke to face prosecution. Six people died and another 15 were injured in the December 2014 crash in the centre of Glasgow.
The FAI has heard that Clarke failed to disclose information about his medical history on several occasions and had a history of fainting and dizziness dating back to the 1970s. But the Crown Office has insisted, since it first announced its decision in February, that there was no reasonable possibility of a criminal conviction.
It is understood the Crown is barred from prosecuting because Clarke has been given a “no proceedings” letter.
Relatives of Jacqueline Morton, 51, one of the people killed in the 22 December incident, released a statement to the press through their lawyer challenging the Crown’s position.
It says: “We have all along thought that Mr Clarke should face prosecution and this will be part of the submission made to Sheriff Beckett.
“While the evidential position will be determined by Sheriff Beckett, we wish to state that, based on the information given to the families by the Crown to justify their decision not to prosecute at the time, we do not accept that the Crown were in possession of all relevant information when the decision not to prosecute Mr Clarke was announced. Submissions to this effect will be made on our behalf in the closing stages of the inquiry.
“We consider that the statement as to the applicable law apparently made by the Crown is simply incorrect.
“There is no basis in law for the suggestion that a prosecution for causing death by dangerous or careless driving would require to prove that it was foreseeable that the driver would suffer a loss of consciousness on the day of the collision.”
Marie Weatherall, who survived the crash and spent a month in hospital recovering, said prosecutors were too quick to dismiss the case.
The 65-year-old said: “I was positive and I felt sorry for the lorry driver.
“But the Crown Office should not have insisted there would be no prosecution at such an early stage, especially if they already knew the details that have come out.
“There has been a lack of awareness and support for the injured. The information that has come out so far has all been such a shock. People want the truth and they want somebody to be held accoutnable for what happened.” The others killed were Erin McQuade, 18, her grandparents Jack Sweeney, 68, and his 69-year-old wife Lorraine, all from Dumbarton, Stephenie Tait, 29, from Glasgow, and Gillian Ewing, 52, from Edinburgh.
Last night Scottish Labour justice spokesman Hugh Henry said: “Given what we have heard at the FAI,
“I can understand why many think it was premature to rule out a prosecution before the FAI started.
“It would help the families and the general public if the Crown Office offered a detailed explanation of their decision not to seek a prosecution whatever was said.
“That would allow the families to decide in light of the evidence given so far, whether the Crown Office made the right decision.”
Sheriff Beckett last week told the Crown to consider its position on prosecution before Clarke, 58, might give evidence to the FAI.
Thomson, who is acting on behalf of the Crown, is expected to say whether he could yet face charges such as failing to disclose information about his medical history when renewing his HGV licence.