Glasgow & West Scotland

Glasgow bin lorry crash: No criminal charges over tragedy

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Media captionAs Laura Bicker reports, a fatal accident inquiry will be held into the crash

There will be no criminal charges as a result of the Glasgow bin lorry crash, it has been confirmed.

Six people died and 10 more were injured when a council bin lorry crashed into pedestrians in Glasgow city centre on 22 December.

The Crown Office said there was no evidence that either the driver or city council was to blame for the accident.

But it said a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) into the tragedy will be held "as soon as possible".

The next of kin of those who died have been informed of the decision not to bring a prosecution.

The FAI will aim to determine the cause of the crash and establish what lessons can be learned.

Earlier this month, Harry Clarke, the driver of the Glasgow City Council bin lorry, told the Daily Record newspaper that he had fallen unconscious at the wheel and could not remember anything about the crash.

Mr Clarke, 58, also said that he understood that bereaved families and those who were injured wanted answers about what exactly had happened.

Image caption (Clockwise from top left) Jack Sweeney, Lorraine Sweeney, Erin McQuade, Jacqueline Morton, Stephenie Tait and Gillian Ewing were killed in the crash

The bin lorry went out of control on Queen Street before crashing into the Millennium Hotel at George Square, close to the city's Queen Street rail station.

Many of those who were struck by it had been out Christmas shopping.

Police investigating the crash submitted their initial report to prosecutors at the end of January.

Reevel Alderson, BBC Scotland home affairs correspondent

Lawyers for some of the families affected by the tragedy just before Christmas have welcomed the announcement that the courts service is to be asked to ensure a Fatal Accident Inquiry can be held as quickly as possible.

Yet no announcement has yet been made about either prosecutions or an FAI in the Clutha helicopter crash which happened 13 months before the George Square tragedy.

This is because the investigation into the bin lorry crash was carried out by Police Scotland under the direction of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).

In the helicopter crash, COPFS is still waiting for a report from the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) which undertook the lead in trying to determine what happened.

This was a purely criminal investigation to determine if the conduct of the bin lorry driver, Harry Clarke, had breached the law - and also if Glasgow City Council had broken health and safety regulations.

Police and prosecutors decided they had not.

However the FAI will be able to hear evidence on Mr Clarke's health, based on his own testimony and medical records before and after the crash.

The police report has now been considered by Crown Counsel - the most senior lawyers within the Crown Office.

In a statement, the Crown Office said: "Crown Counsel have concluded that the driver of the lorry should not be prosecuted in respect of this tragic incident.

"Despite its catastrophic consequences there is no evidence to suggest that the driver's conduct at the time amounted to a breach of the criminal law.

"There is no evidence to support a prosecution of Glasgow City Council in respect of any health and safety concerns breaches in health and safety law.

"Crown Counsel have decided that a fatal accident inquiry should be held into the causes of this tragedy to ensure that there can be a full public hearing of the facts of the case."

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: "We will provide any assistance that the inquiry needs."

The six people who died in the crash were teacher Stephenie Tait, 29, from Glasgow; student Erin McQuade, 18, and her grandparents Lorraine, 69, and Jack Sweeney, 68, from Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire; tax worker Jacqueline Morton, 51, from Glasgow; and 52-year-old Gillian Ewing, from Edinburgh.

Patrick McGuire, a partner with Thompsons Solicitors which represents many of the victims, said the announcement of an FAI would "begin the process of finding out what happened to cause this terrible accident which is of the greatest importance to the victims and their relatives."

He added: "My clients and I are particularly heartened that the Crown has moved so quickly towards convening a Fatal Accident Inquiry.

"It has often been the case that years can pass before a FAI is set up, if indeed one is set up at all. This leads to further anguish to victims and their families. Therefore the Crown Office is to be commended for its swift action which reflects the huge public concern about this accident."

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