Blackout bin lorry driver ‘lied on job application’

The crashed bin lorry in George Square Picture: Robert Perry
The crashed bin lorry in George Square Picture: Robert Perry
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The bin lorry crash that killed six people – including a mother from the Capital – days before Christmas could have been avoided if the driver “had told the truth” in his job application, an inquiry has heard.

Harry Clarke was driving the council vehicle in Glasgow city centre on December 22 when it went out of control after witnesses reported he appeared to lose consciousness.

Last week, a fatal accident inquiry heard evidence that he had collapsed while driving a bus on the morning of April 7, 2010.

The inquiry at Glasgow Sheriff Court was told yesterday that Mr Clarke did not disclose the incident in three later medical assessments when applying for jobs at Glasgow City Council starting in 2010.

Dorothy Bain QC produced a form completed by Mr Clarke on December 15, 2010 as part of a job application that stated he had only had seven days off in the previous two years, due to flu.

The lawyer, who is representing the family of victim Jacqueline Morton, later showed the inquiry Mr Clarke’s First Bus employment record, which showed he had been off between March 1 and 6 and then between April 7 and 30.

Both were marked as “sickness” on the form and an application for sick pay during the April absence detailed the illness as “vasovagal”, which Ms Bain said was “a faint or blackout”.

Ms Bain then showed a second medical questionnaire filled out by Mr Clarke in December 2011 when applying for a new job at the council road gritting department. It stated he had no absences in the last two years.

The documents were produced during cross-examination of Douglas Gellan, 48, cleaning services waste manager at the council.

Ms Bain said Mr Clarke had a third opportunity to declare the bus incident during a DVLA licence check in 2011. The D4 form needs to be completed by LGV drivers every five years once they turn 45.

A question on the form read: “Is there a history of blackout or impaired consciousness within the last five years?”

A box marking “No” had been ticked, the inquiry was shown.

Mr Gellan said Mr Clarke would not have been employed if the previous cases were known.

Doctor Joanne Willox, who completed the form with Mr Clarke, told police in January that if she had known about the First Bus episode in 2010 she would have informed the DVLA and the council, making him “temporarily unfit for duty”.

Gillian Ewing, 52, from Mortonhall, was amongst those who were struck and killed by the lorry. Erin McQuade, 18, and her grandparents Jack Sweeney, 68, and Lorraine Sweeney, 69, from Dumbarton, and Stephenie Tait, 29, and Ms Morton, 51, both from Glasgow, also died.