The law is an ass

It is incredible that Mr Frank Mulholland QC should state during the fatal accident inquiry that “cold hard facts” showed that there were insufficient grounds to prosecute the driver of the lethal Glasgow bin lorry. He further said there was no evidence that Mr Clarke could have known he would faint at the wheel (your report, 31 August).

It was not disputed that Mr Clarke had a long history of sudden blackouts and fainting fits. As he spent a large part of his life behind the wheel, the likelihood of him suffering such fits while at the wheel with catastrophic results was surely eminently foreseeable.

I would call that a “hard cold fact”. It further emerged during the inquiry that it was not an offence to lie to the DVLA in order to keep a driving licence.

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Earlier this year, my wife had a brain tumour removed. She voluntarily surrendered her driving licence.

Fortunately, the tumour turned out to be benign, and a follow-up scan in May revealed that the tumour had been totally removed, with no signs of any problems.

In early June, she submitted her forms to the DVLA with the foregoing details, applying for reinstatement of her licence, but has heard nothing further from the DVLA, so still cannot legally drive.

From the legalities revealed by the bin lorry inquiry, it seems she could have retained her licence, but simply refrained voluntarily from driving until she received the all-clear scan, then, still in possession of a licence, she could have resumed driving without telling the DVLA anything.

As far as I can see from the inquiry, no offence would have thus been committed.

My conclusion is that the law is an ass, and honesty is not the best policy.

DJ Hollingdale

Easter Park Drive


Louis Robb (Letters, 31 August) is mistaken in his interpretation of your excellent editorial on “the bin lorry tragedy”.

Is mens rea or “evil intention” actually applicable, especially in motoring law or health and safety?

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Quite recently mens rea was rejected by a former prosecutor for the Health and Safety Executive. However, your editorial writer isn’t saying the decision is wrong but, more importantly, “is it right?”

Surely a main feature of human beings is our rationality and our capacity to reason.

Perhaps the editorial will provoke discussions between the public, politicians, judges and lawyers about mens rea.

Don’t we as rational animals have the ability to foresee the consequences of actions not intended?

Arguably, regarding health and safety and motoring law, it’s the practical reasoning of “foreseeable consequences” that replaces mens rea.


Old Chapel Walk