Council lose £6.5m claim against bus firm over Glasgow bin lorry crash

Lawyers for Glasgow City Council sued First Glasgow (No 1) Ltd at the Court of Session last year.

Council lose £6.5m claim against bus firm over Glasgow bin lorry crash STV News

Scotland’s largest local authority has failed in a legal bid to recover £6.5m from a bus company which once employed Glasgow bin lorry driver Harry Clarke.

Lawyers for Glasgow City Council sued First Glasgow (No 1) Ltd at the Court of Session last year. 

Lawyers acting for the council claimed the company acted negligently in failing to provide its HR team with an accurate reference for Clarke. 

The court heard claims that First Glasgow failed to disclose information that Clarke lost consciousness at the wheel of a bus in 2010. 

Clarke then went onto drive a bin lorry which he lost control of moments before it struck and killed six people. 

Glasgow City Council’s advocate Andrew Smith QC asked judge Lord Ericht for the cash to compensate the local authority for the funds it paid out to the relatives of those who lost their lives. 

However, in a judgement issued at the court on Thursday, Lord Ericht threw the action out.

The judge ruled the evidence in the case showed that the council failed to chase up First Glasgow’s HR department for a reference about Clarke.

Lord Ericht said the evidence showed that a former manager of Clarke’s at First Glasgow called Frank McCann told Clarke that an HR employee called Darryl Turner was the person responsible for writing references. 

Clarke told his prospective employers about the need to contact Mr Turner. But nobody from the local authority followed up on the information. 

Lord Ericht concluded that the action must fail as the council had not proven that First Glasgow had acted negligently in failing to disclose that Clarke had previously passed out.

He wrote: “There was no evidence from… emails or any other source that anyone from the pursuer had acted on the information received from Mr Clarke that a reference would require to be requested from Mr Turner rather than Mr McCann, and emailed or otherwise contacted Mr Turner requesting a reference. 

“There was no evidence of a reference having been received from Mr Turner. 

“I find that no reference was received from Mr Turner.” 

“As I have found on the facts that the defender did not provide a reference to the pursuer for Mr Clarke, the pursuer’s case fails.” 

Student Erin McQuade, 18, and her grandparents 68-year-old Jack and 69-year-old Lorraine Sweeney lost their lives in the incident. 

Stephanie Tait, Jacqueline Morton,51, and 52-year-old Gillian Ewing also died in the incident. 

Crown lawyers decided not to prosecute Clarke on the basis that he had a medical condition and there was no evidence to show he broke the law. 

The council’s lawyers claimed the alleged failure to disclose the information about Clarke passing out meant the firm breached a duty of care to the dead pedestrians. 

During proceedings, the court heard evidence that Clarke was chosen over 300 other applicants for the Glasgow City Council job

In his judgment, Lord Ericht said that a “problem” for the council in proving its case was it was unable to provide the reference for Clarke. 

He said that in the days following the George Square incident, copies of the alleged reference couldn’t be found in Clarke’s personnel file. 

He wrote: “The problem for the pursuer is that it has not produced the reference. It could not find the reference, or any copy of it, in either its paper file or electronic records.

“Nor does any copy of the reference exist in the defender’s files and records. No witness remembers seeing the reference or what it said.”

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