Driver did not disclose blackout behind bus wheel
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.