Ex-Historic Scotland chief admits causing bus smash

Witnesses saw Malcolm Cooper's car swerve before the crash
Witnesses saw Malcolm Cooper's car swerve before the crash
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The former Chief Inspector of Historic Scotland was found unconscious at the side of the A9 after smashing into a passenger bus, a court has heard.

Malcolm Cooper was seen driving erratically before losing control of his vehicle and ending up in a head-on collision with the bus shortly after quitting his high-powered post last year.

Cooper, of Dublin Street, Edinburgh, a former senior executive with the government agency, admitted driving dangerously when he appeared in the dock at Perth Sheriff Court yesterday.

The court was told that Cooper was found at the side of his car and it was unclear whether he had been thrown from the vehicle in the crash.

The 52-year-old was banned from driving for a year and ordered to re-sit the extended driving test before returning to the road. He was also given a month to pay an £800 fine.

Fiscal depute John Malpass told the court that two other motorist saw Cooper’s vehicle being driven erratically on the A9 Perth to Inverness road near Dunkeld in Perthshire.

“They observed the accused carry out an overtake manoeuvre at speed,” he said. “That attracted attention because his vehicle seemed to swerve across both carriageways into the path of oncoming vehicles.

“He came back into the carriageway he should have been in and struck the nearside kerb. The bus, carrying passengers, was being driven in the opposite direction.

“The bus driver had to take evasive action by driving up on to the nearside verge, but the accused’s vehicle struck the bus. No-one was injured on the bus.

“The accused’s vehicle was severely damaged and he was found, apparently unconscious, on the grass adjacent to his vehicle.”

Solicitor Fergus Christie, defending, said: “He has no memory of this at all. He remembers driving the car and the next thing he remembers is being at the side of the road.

“The matter has lived with him since then. He is now retired and can pay a financial penalty.”

Cooper, admitted driving his car dangerously on the A9 and hitting a bus on October 6 last year.

Sheriff Lindsay Foulis said it had been clear that Cooper had lost control of his vehicle while overtaking at speed and had then “pinballed” back across the road.

Cooper is one of five senior executives who have resigned in the past 18 months from Historic Scotland, amid allegations of a culture of bullying.

The organisation, which is entrusted with looking after cultural treasures such as Edinburgh and Stirling castles, has been rocked by the resignations since the arrival of chief executive Ruth Parsons.

Cooper left during 2011 due to stress-related illness.

A recent wellbeing survey of Historic Scotland’s 1100 staff found that around five per cent reported some form of bullying.