Bin lorry crash driver suspended from former job

The damaged cab of the bin lorry that crashed in Glasgow city centre. Picture: SWNS
The damaged cab of the bin lorry that crashed in Glasgow city centre. Picture: SWNS
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The driver of a council bin lorry which crashed killing six people had been suspended by his previous employer when he started working for Glasgow City Council, an inquiry heard.

Harry Clarke had also previously been given a final formal written warning over his attendance record by First Bus, the fatal accident inquiry at Glasgow Sheriff Court was told.

He was suspended from duty by First Bus in December 2010 and started working for the city council in January 2011.

Mr Clarke was driving the council truck on December 22 last year when it went out of control after witnesses reported how he appeared to lose consciousness at the wheel.

Gillian Ewing, 52, from Mortonhall, was amongst those who were struck and killed.

Erin McQuade, 18, and her grandparents Jack Sweeney, 68, and Lorraine Sweeney, 69, from Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, and Stephenie Tait, 29, and Jacqueline Morton, 51, from Glasgow, also died.

Solicitor Advocate Ronald Conway, representing the family of Ms Tait, told the inquiry that Mr Clarke was given a formal written warning in the autumn of 2009 over absences from work and had also been given other warnings that year. These included a two-week absence in August 2009 following an episode of vertigo and a ten-day absence for a knee condition.

The driver appealed against the written formal warning but this was rejected.

Cross-examining Douglas Gellan, a cleansing services waste manager for Glasgow, Mr Conway asked whether if he had known about the final formal warning it would have acted as a “red flag”, to which Mr Gellan agreed.

Mr Conway described Mr Clarke as a “deeply unattractive candidate for Glasgow City Council”.

The second witness of the day was Geraldine Ham, human resources manager for land and environmental services at Glasgow City Council.

The inquiry was shown an application form which Mr Clarke submitted for the post of assisted support for learning driver with the council in July 2010. She was asked to read out a section in which Mr Clarke outlined why he was suited for the role.

He wrote: “I’ve been driving LGV vehicles for the past 33 years with no service endorsements. I’ve worked driving buses in Glasgow for ten of these years. I’m fit, good at working with members of the pubic and I’m reliable.”

The inquiry continues.