Glasgow bin lorry tragedy inquiry findings to be published


The findings of the fatal accident inquiry (FAI) into the Glasgow bin lorry tragedy will be published today.

Six people were killed and 15 were injured when the council truck veered out of control in the city centre on December 22 last year.

The vehicle travelled along the pavement on Queen Street before before crashing into the side of the Millennium Hotel at George Square after driver Harry Clarke blacked out behind the wheel.

Those who died in the crash were 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.

The inquiry into the tragedy heard evidence over five weeks at Glasgow Sheriff Court in July and August this year.

Sheriff John Beckett's determination will be issued at midday on Monday.

During the hearing, emergency service workers, council staff, doctors, crash experts and those who were inside the bin lorry - including Mr Clarke - gave evidence.

The probe heard that it took just 19 seconds for the tragedy to unfold. During the course of the incident, numerous members of the public saw Mr Clarke unconscious, slumped forward in the driver's seat.

The inquiry also heard that the driver had a history of health issues dating back to the 1970s - including a previous blackout in 2010 when at the wheel of a stationary bus - but had not disclosed his medical background to his employers or the DVLA.

When he gave evidence towards the end of the hearing, Mr Clarke was warned by Sheriff Beckett that he did not have to answer questions which could incriminate him as the families of some of the victims had signalled their intention to raise a private prosecution against him.

Over two days he refused to answer the majority of questions from lawyers.

But speaking about the moment he blacked out, the driver told the hearing: "Everything was okay, I saw the Christmas lights in the distance, and the next minute ... it was like a light switch.''

In his evidence, he refused to apologise after being accused of telling a ''pack of lies'' about his medical history.

Mr Clarke resigned from his job with Glasgow City Council in October, shortly before he was due to attend a disciplinary meeting.

He told a documentary aired days later that he "unreservedly" apologises for his role in the tragedy.

In a letter to the BBC Scotland programme, Lies, Laws And The Bin Lorry Tragedy, Mr Clarke said: ''I understand that the impact of this event on me is irrelevant when compared to the loss that the families of the victims have suffered.

''I wish to unreservedly apologise for my role in this tragic event."

The FAI was convened after the Crown decided not to prosecute Mr Clarke. The decision was strongly defended by Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC in the face of criticism from some parties connected with the case.

Meanwhile, it was announced last week that a special service will be held to mark the anniversary of the crash.

The event, organised by Glasgow Churches Together, will take place at Glasgow Cathedral on December 22.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Lord Provost Sadie Docherty and local politicians will all attend, as will church leaders, representatives of the emergency services and people who helped at the scene.

The families of those affected by the incident have been invited to attend.