Bin Lorry Driver Refuses To Say Sorry
21 August 2015, 16:18
The Glasgow bin lorry crash driver who blacked out at the wheel has refused to apologise after being accused of telling a ''pack of lies'' about his medical history.
A lawyer for one of the six people killed told Harry Clarke, 58, ''it's all your fault'' as legal teams pressed him to tell the truth at an inquiry into the December 22 accident last year.
The council driver faced claims he was to blame for the crash by failing to advise doctors and employers about a history of dizzy spells and fainting.
Dorothy Bain QC, representing the family of Jacqueline Morton, accused him of misleading medics and telling a ''pack of lies'' on job application and DVLA forms in order to keep his HGV licence.
The Crown Office ruled out bringing any charges against Mr Clarke ahead of the fatal accident inquiry but he could face a private prosecution led by victims' families.
The threat of court action means he used his legal right not to answer questions relating to his medical and employment history despite pressure from relatives' lawyers.
Ms Bain said: ``If your daughter was killed and there was a public inquiry trying to find out what might have prevented her death, what would you hope those who might have some information about it would do at that public inquiry?
''Given the sympathy and care you've been shown by everyone, do you not have the decency to think of someone other than yourself on this occasion?
''If you have done something ... do you not think you should begin to make amends for that by choosing to answer?''
The inquiry has previously heard evidence that Mr Clarke blacked out at the wheel of a stationary bus while employed by First Bus in April 2010.
Ms Bain said it only came to light in February this year when a consultant checked his medical records. He was told at that point not to drive but still had the ``audacity'' to apply to get his licence back, she said.
The lawyer said: ''You should never have been behind the wheel of an HGV and you know that. It's actually all your fault, do you see that?
''If you had told the truth in 2010, there is every likelihood the six innocent people who lost their lives would still be here today.''
Throughout Ms Bain's comments, Mr Clarke said: ''I don't wish to answer that question.''
Erin McQuade, 18, and her grandparents Jack Sweeney, 68, and Lorraine Sweeney, 69, from Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, Stephenie Tait, 29, and Jacqueline Morton, 51, both from Glasgow, and Gillian Ewing, 52, from Edinburgh, were killed as the lorry driven by Mr Clarke veered out of control during a routine rubbish collection three days before Christmas.
The truck mounted the pavement on Queen Street and travelled towards George Square before crashing into the side of the Millennium Hotel.
Ronald Conway, acting for Ms Tait's family, told Mr Clarke: ''I'm going to ask that you say sorry to the people that died that day.
''I want you to say sorry for the lies told in 2010 and that those lies led to the deaths of six people.''
Mr Clarke said ''no, I can't say that,'' and the lawyer told him ''you'll never get another chance''.
Mr Conway pleaded with the witness to give the family a ''crumb of comfort'' by telling the truth so a similar tragedy could be prevented.
He said: ''Every morning when you get up and look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself questions about this matter, you can't decline to comment to your own heart, can you?''
The driver said: ``I can only answer what I can answer.''
Mark Stewart QC, for the McQuade and Sweeney families, asked Mr Clarke to take the risk of prosecution ''on the chin'' and answer questions put to him.
The driver yesterday gave an account of the day of the accident, describing the moment he blacked out as ''like a light switch''.
Mr Clarke was later diagnosed with neurocardiogenic syncope, also known as vaso vagal syndrome, which affects the heart rate and blood pressure.
He now has an implant and will return to hospital for more tests in September, he said.
The inquiry heard that Mr Clarke was not formally interviewed by police after the crash but answered questions put to him by a representative from the Crown Office.
The inquiry was adjourned until 9.30am on Tuesday.