Bin Lorry crash driver ‘hid medical history’

Glasgow City Council human resources manager Geraldine Ham. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA
Glasgow City Council human resources manager Geraldine Ham. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA
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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.

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

The FAI looking into 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 the references given to the employer must be similarly 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 that there were “significant shortcomings” in the council’s recruitment procedures at the time the driver got his first job at the authority.

Gillian Ewing, 52, from Mortonhall, was amongst those killed when the lorry careered out of control along Queen Street and towards George Square before crashing into the side of the Millennium Hotel.

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

Stephenie Tait, 29, and Jacqueline Morton, 51, both from Glasgow, were also killed.

The Crown Office ordered an FAI into the crash after prosecutors ruled there was no evidence to warrant criminal proceedings.

The inquiry continues.

newsen@edinburghnews.com