Glasgow & West Scotland

Grave death inquiry hears official 'misled' health and safety executive

Ciaran James Williamson Image copyright Police Scotland

A former council official has been accused of misleading the health and safety executive (HSE) after a child died at a cemetery in Glasgow.

Ciaran Williamson, eight, was playing with friends in Craigton Cemetery when a headstone fell on him on 26 May 2015.

Alastair Brown later told the HSE that the council had a "formal process of inspection" for cemeteries before 2015.

A QC for Ciaran's mother stated that no evidence existed for this claim and accused him of misleading inspectors.

Mr Brown, who was head of environment and sustainability at Glasgow City Council from 2008 until September 2016, was giving evidence for a second day at the fatal accident inquiry into Ciaran's death.

'Ad hoc inspections'

The inquiry, at Glasgow Sheriff Court, aims is to establish if there were any reasonable precautions that could have prevented the tragedy.

It also aims establish if there were any defects in the system of work which caused or contributed to Ciaran's death.

The inquiry heard that Mr Brown wrote to the health and safety executive following the tragedy.

In his letter, he said the council had established a "formal process of inspection" before 2015.

The letter also said: "Whilst there does not seem to be any formal inspections undertaken from 2011 there are reports of a number of inspections on an ad hoc basis."

Paperwork sent to the HSE included 11 reports of checks at cemeteries in Glasgow, between 2006 and 2011.

Six cemeteries had only one report while two others had multiple checks over those years.

An example of one record from Sandymount cemetery, dated back to 2006 and recorded three memorials being checked.

'No record'

Dorothy Bain QC representing Ciaran's mother, Stephanie Griffin, questioned Mr Brown about the records.

She said: "There's no record for Craigton here."

The witness replied: "There's no record for Craigton.

Ms Bain put to him: "The records - clearly meaningless, aren't they?"

Mr Brown said he "wasn't familiar with guidance" but said he would have thought they would have asked for "more explicit records".

Ms Bain continued "If this is all there is, there is no evidence whatsoever of what you have told the inspectorate, namely a formal process for the inspection of memorials within burial grounds.

"It's completely misleading the inspectorate."

The witness replied: "I would have expected the inspectorate if they were unhappy with phraseology to come back to me for more records."

Mr Brown said that from 2003 onwards it was a "fairly unplanned activity".

The inquiry before sheriff Linda Ruxton continues.

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