Driver did not dis­close black­out be­hind bus wheel

Lennox Herald - - NEWS - Mark McGivern

Glas­gow bin lorry tragedy driver Harry Clarke sub­mit­ted ap­pli­ca­tions to re­gain a heavy ve­hi­cle li­cence from the DVLA on three oc­ca­sions up to 2014.

When asked about his med­i­cal history, he flagged up four ar­eas of con­cern – none of which re­ferred to a black­out he had at the wheel of a bus in 2010.

DVLA med­i­cal of­fi­cer Dr Gareth Parry told the fa­tal ac­ci­dent in­quiry that Mr Clarke in­formed li­cens­ing chiefs that he had un­der­gone an ECG test on his heart, which showed no de­fects. He also owned up to episodes of gout and heart­burn and a squint in his right eye.

Dr Parry ad­mit­ted that the pro­ce­dures for ap­pli­ca­tions for Group 2 ve­hi­cle li­cences – for lor­ries and buses – were open to abuse.

He agreed with Ron­ald Con­way QC, rep­re­sent­ing the fam­ily of vic­tim Stephe­nieTait, that some driv­ers would be faced with“a huge level of temp­ta­tion”to lie to seal their li­cence ap­pli­ca­tion.

Mr Con­way said that even af­ter the hor­rific crash Mr Clarke seemed to place a high pri­or­ity on get­ting his li­cence back.

He said:“If ev­i­dence is go­ing to emerge that there was a loss of con­scious­ness in 2010 there is no ev­i­dence Mr Clarke has dis­closed that.

“Not only did he not de­clare it, he chivvied up to the DVLA to get on with his li­cence ap­pli­ca­tion.”

Clarke, 58, was un­con­scious at the wheel of the Glas­gow City Coun­cil bin lorry when it crashed on De­cem­ber 22. Six peo­ple died and 15 oth­ers were hurt when it veered out of con­trol be­fore crash­ing into a ho­tel in Ge­orge Square.

The in­quiry heard that the DVLA knew about Mr Clarke’s in­volve­ment in the crash when it granted his ap­pli­ca­tion to re­store his li­cence in April.

Mr Con­way told Dr Parry:“I’m ut­terly baf­fled that you would come to the de­ci­sion to re­store this man’s li­cence.”

Mr Clarke’s for­mer line man­ager at First Bus, Fran­cis McCann, told the in­quiry he could not re­mem­ber fill­ing in a coun­cil ref­er­ence form for him when he looked for work as a bin lorry driver.

Mr McCann said Mr Clarke re­signed days be­fore a dis­ci­plinary hear­ing in 2011, while he was un­der sus­pen­sion.

Erin McQuade, 18, and her grand­par­ents Jack Sweeney, 68, and Lorraine Sweeney, 69, from Dum­bar­ton died when they were hit by the run­away truck three days be­fore Christ­mas. Jac­que­line Mor­ton, 51, and Stephe­nieTait, 29, both from Glas­gow, and Gil­lian Ewing, 52, from Ed­in­burgh were also killed.

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