Bin lorry tragedy driver to avoid criminal prosecution

The aftermath of December's bin lorry tragedy. Picture: Robert Perry
The aftermath of December's bin lorry tragedy. Picture: Robert Perry
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The driver of a runaway bin lorry which killed six people – including a woman from the Capital – will not be prosecuted over the incident.

Harry Clarke, 58, was behind the wheel of the refuse vehicle when it lost control and ploughed into shoppers in Glasgow city centre three days before Christmas last year.

Prosecutors yesterday concluded that no charges should be brought against the driver or the city council.

A fatal accident inquiry (FAI) into the causes of the tragedy will now take place “as soon as possible”, the Crown Office said.

Erin McQuade, 18, and her grandparents Jack Sweeney, 68, and his 69-year-old wife Lorraine, all from Dumbarton, died in the incident in the city’s Queen Street and George Square on December 22.

Primary school teacher Stephenie Tait, 29, and tax worker Jacqueline Morton, 51, both from Glasgow, and Gillian Ewing, 52, from Edinburgh, were also killed when the lorry mounted the pavement before crashing into the side of the Millennium Hotel.

The police report into the crash, in which a further ten people were injured, was sent to prosecutors on January 29.

The Crown Office said its decision follows careful consideration of the report by its most senior lawyers.

The service found there was no evidence to support any prosecutions.

In a statement, the Crown Office said: “Crown counsel have concluded that the driver of the lorry should not be prosecuted in respect of this tragic incident.

“Despite its catastrophic consequences there is no evidence to suggest that the driver’s conduct at the time amounted to a breach of the criminal law. There is no evidence to support a prosecution of Glasgow City Council in respect of any health and safety concerns breaches in health and safety law.”

Crown lawyers decided that an FAI should be held “to ensure that there can be a full public hearing of the facts of the case”.

They will petition the courts within two weeks for the inquiry to be held as soon as possible.

Relatives of those who died in the incident have been informed of the decision not to bring a prosecution and to hold an FAI “to determine the cause of the crash and establish what lessons can be learned from this tragic incident”.

Patrick McGuire, a partner with Thompsons Solicitors, which is representing some of those affected by the crash, said: “This announcement from the Crown Office is very welcome. It begins the process of finding out what happened to cause this terrible accident, which is of the greatest importance to the victims and their relatives.

“My clients and I are particularly heartened that the Crown has moved so quickly towards convening an FAI. It has often been the case that years can pass before an FAI is set up, if indeed one is set up at all”

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: “We will provide any assistance that the inquiry needs.”

newsen@edinburghnews.com