Glasgow & West Scotland

Judges hear bin lorry crash private prosecution bid

The scene of the crash Image copyright PA
Image caption The Glasgow bin lorry crash killed six people and injured 17 others

Three judges in Edinburgh have begun hearing an application to bring a private prosecution against the Glasgow bin lorry crash driver Harry Clarke.

The Sweeney/McQuade family is seeking a Bill of Criminal Letters, which would allow them to bring charges over the 2014 crash, which killed six people.

The judges will also hear a similar bid from the relatives of two students killed in a crash in Glasgow in 2010.

In each case the Crown Office decided not to prosecute the drivers involved.

Judges Lady Dorrian, Lord Menzies and Lord Drummond Young began hearing legal arguments on Tuesday at the Court of Session.

They heard from Scotland's most senior prosecutor, the Lord Advocate, James Wolffe QC. The content of his submissions cannot be disclosed for legal reasons.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Harry Clarke was unconscious at the wheel when the bin lorry went out of control
Image caption (Clockwise from top left) Jack Sweeney, Lorraine Sweeney, Erin McQuade, Jacqueline Morton, Stephenie Tait and Gillian Ewing were killed in the crash

Mr Clarke, 58, was unconscious when the Glasgow City Council bin lorry veered out of control on 22 December 2014, killing six people and injuring 17 others.

Those who died in the crash were Erin McQuade, 18, her grandparents Jack Sweeney, 68, and his 69-year-old wife Lorraine, from Dumbarton, Stephenie Tait, 29, and Jacqueline Morton, 51, both from Glasgow, and Gillian Ewing, 52, from Edinburgh.

The Sweeney/McQuade family want Mr Clarke to face trial as an inquiry found the crash could have been avoided if he had not lied about his medical history.

It emerged during the fatal accident inquiry into the crash that Mr Clarke had lied about his history of blackouts on job applications and medical declarations.

The Crown decided not to prosecute Mr Clarke after saying there was no evidence that he knew, or ought to have known, that he was unfit to drive.

Other prosecution

The families of students Mhairi Convy and Laura Stewart, who were knocked down and killed in a separate crash in Glasgow in 2010 are also seeking a private prosecution.

The two women, who were aged 18 and 20, were walking in the city's North Hanover Street when a Range Rover being driven by William Payne mounted the kerb and hit them after he blacked out at the wheel.

Image copyright Other
Image caption Mhairi Convy (left) and Laura Stewart died after being hit by William Payne's car in Glasgow

A fatal accident inquiry later found that both women may still be alive if Mr Payne had disclosed his condition and medics had advised him not to drive.

Again, the Crown Office chose not to prosecute Mr Payne on the basis that there was no evidence that he knew, or ought to have known, that he was unfit to drive.

Lawyers acting for bereaved families in both fatal crashes are seeking permission from judges for a Bill Of Criminal Letters - the legal expression given for private prosecutions in Scotland.

They can only proceed if their petitions are approved by judges at the Court of Session.

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