Glasgow bin lorry crash inquiry recommends overhaul of fitness to drive rules

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An inquiry into the Glasgow lorry bin crash has called on the Government to overhaul the law governing the non-disclosure of medical information.

The fatal accident inquiry (FAI) found that the tragedy could have been avoided if the driver Harry Clarke had not lied about his medical history.

The 58-year-old had suffered blackouts and was unconscious when his truck killed six people after it careered out of control on December 22, 2014.

The inquiry, held at Glasgow Sheriff Court before Sheriff John Beckett, was set up after the Crown Office decided not to prosecute anyone over the crash.

Yesterday, after Beckett’s report had been published, the Crown Office released a statement which said: "There are no findings in the determination that undermine the decisions not to prosecute the driver.”

It added: “It is important to note the sheriff was considering evidence at an FAI where a lesser standard of proof is required and where more relaxed rules of evidence apply.

"A criminal prosecution requires sufficient evidence to the much higher standard beyond reasonable doubt."

However, relatives of three of the crash victims - Erin McQuade and Jack and Lorraine Sweeney - criticised the decision not to prosecute Clarke.

In a statement, the families said: "We firmly remain of the view that they are wrong as is their interpretation of the findings and recommendations.

"As a result we have instructed our solicitor to commence a prosecution against the driver."

In his report, Beckett suggests that had eight “reasonable” precautions been taken, relating to Clarke's health, the crash could have been prevented.

The sheriff also outlined 19 recommendations which could reduce the chances of such an incident recurring in future.

They include a request for the Department for Transport (DfT) to examine whether doctors should be given greater freedom, or an obligation, to report fitness to drive concerns directly to the DVLA.

During the inquiry, the sheriff heard how fitness-to-drive rules were “open to abuse” and “not fit for purpose” after it emerged that no one has been prosecuted for giving a false declaration.

As a result, he has also suggested that DfT should also consult on how best to ensure that the DVLA has the proper information to make fitness to drive licensing decisions, with consideration given to increasing the penalties and altering the method of prosecution for non-disclosure.

In addition, Beckett has recommended that the DVLA should change its policy so relevant information on fitness to drive, from third parties such as the police, could be investigated and it should "redouble its efforts to raise awareness of the implications of medical conditions for fitness to drive".

A DVLA spokesman said: "We are carefully considering the recommendations in the report."

Clarke's employer, Glasgow City Council, was also the subject of a series of recommendations from Beckett.

The sheriff recommended that the local authority should not let drivers start work before references are checked; conduct a review of employment processes to improve checks on medical and sickness absence information; map routes out between collection points in risk assessments; and also take into account the potential for the presence of exceptional numbers of pedestrians at particular times.

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  • Edward Handley - 08/12/2015 19:43

    It is quite staggering that six people can be mowed down and killed, and numerous others badly injured, by a driver who had previously suffered several blackouts, including one driving a bus, and who then deliberately lied to renew his vocational licence, and the Crown Office still insist there is not enough evidence for a criminal prosecution. What Clarke did surely merits a charge of manslaughter. Peversely I know of cases where a truck driver made a simple error, rather than a deliberate lie, which resulted in a crash causing serious injuries,but not a death, and the driver ended up in prison. How can the Crown Office claim there is not enough evidence when six people are dead by this man's negligent act? I suspect this crash will also result in a bit of a witch hunt against older drivers as I heard some politician claiming that there are "innumerable drivers" out there who should not be driving, but no one challenged him for the evidence,or research, to back up his claim.

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