Glasgow bin lorry driver ‘broke bond of trust’

The bin lorry after it came to a stop following the tragedy last year. Picture: Robert Perry

The bin lorry after it came to a stop following the tragedy last year. Picture: Robert Perry

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THE DRIVER of a bin lorry which crashed killing six people broke a “bond of trust” with his employer by deliberately failing to disclose his medical history, a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) has heard.

A witness agreed with the suggestion from lawyer Peter Gray QC as the inquiry into the Glasgow tragedy entered its third week at the city’s sheriff court.

Did it appear that the lack of candour was deliberate?

Peter Gray QC

Harry Clarke, 58, was driving the council vehicle in Glasgow city centre on 22 December last year when it went out of control, with witnesses reporting that he appeared to lose consciousness at the wheel.

The FAI looking in to the tragedy has already heard that Mr Clarke had a history of health issues including fainting, dizziness and stress dating back to the 1970s.

It has been told he did not ­disclose his medical history on various occasions, including when he completed a health questionnaire as part of his job application to be a school bus driver for Glasgow City Council in 2010.

Mr Gray, representing the local authority, cross-questioned Geraldine Ham, a human resources manager at the council, as she gave evidence to the inquiry for a third day.

He put it to the witness that for a recruitment process to work effectively the would-be employee has to provide “honest and accurate” information, and references given to the employer must also be accurate.

Referring to Mr Clarke, the QC said: “In a number of occasions and a number of material respects, he was not truthful about his medical history, is that ­correct?”

Ms Ham agreed.

“On one view, would you agree that it would appear that the lack of candour appeared to be deliberate?” “Yes,” replied the witness.

Mr Gray continued: “The bond of trust so important between employer and employee – if it’s accepted, what is contained in the medical records – has been fundamentally broken between the council and Mr Clarke.

“That must be a possibility, isn’t it?” Ms Ham replied: “Yes.

Earlier, the inquiry heard claims there were “significant shortcomings” in the council’s recruitment procedures at the time the driver got his first job at the authority.

Dorothy Bain QC, representing the family of crash victim Jacqueline Morton, talked the witness through various employment documents and put it to her: “At the stage that Mr Clarke was employed by the council to transport children with special needs, we can see significant shortcomings in the council process for recruitment.”

Ms Ham said the local authority tried to ensure that the necessary employment processes were in place.

Erin McQuade, 18, and her grandparents Jack Sweeney, 68, and Lorraine Sweeney, 69, from Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, died from multiple injuries after being hit by the lorry.

Ms Tait, 29, and Ms Morton, 51, both from Glasgow, and Gillian Ewing, 52, from Edinburgh, were also killed as the vehicle travelled out of control along Queen Street and towards George Square before crashing into the side of the Millennium Hotel.

The inquiry continues.

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