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20 August 2015, 14:23
THE DRIVER of a bin lorry that careered into and killed six people refused to answer a series of questions when he was called to give evidence at the fatal accident inquiry into their deaths.
Henry Clarke - also known as Harry - confirmed his name, age, and told Glasgow Sheriff Court court his occupation but refused to answer most questions.
He was asked if he knew about the six people who died on December 22, 2014 and if he knew that the families had been in court every day, wanting answers.
Mr Clarke said: “I imagine they would want answers, yes.”
But he said he did “did not want to answer” most of the questions he was asked about his medical and employment history.
The six were killed when a bin lorry careered into them on Glasgow's Queen Street.
Jack Sweeney, 68, his wife Lorraine, 69, and their 18-year-old granddaughter Erin McQuade, all from Dumbarton, were among them.
Gillian Ewing, 52 , from Edinburgh, Jacqueline Morton, 51,and 29-year -old Stephenie Tait from Glasgow also tragically lost their lives.
The 58-year-old was brought into the building early in the morning, up to five hours before he was due to begin giving evidence at 11am.
Despite a motion from his counsel Ronnie Clancy QC to adjourn the hearing until after the outcome of any private prosecution, he was put into the witness box.
Wearing a suite and dark glasses, Mr Clarke was brought into the court room and sat only feet from the bereaved family members who have been at the inquiry each day.
Some wept as he entered and took his place for questioning and a few left within minutes of his evidence starting.
Sheriff John Beckett QC told him: “The law says that you do not have to answer any questions if the answer would tend to show that you are guilty of any crime or offence.
“That means that you do not have to tell any of the people who ask you questions any more than your name and your age.”
Mr Clarke said he understood and solicitor general Lesley Thomson QC began her questions.
He confirmed his full name is Henry Campbell Clarke and he is 58 and gave his occupation.
Asked what age he was when he started as a professional driver
On the request of his advocate Paul Reid, Mr Clarke was reminded about the warning and told the hearing “I don’t wish to answer that.”
He gave that answer to a number of questions from the solicitor general including what age he was when he got his heavy goods licence, what sort of vehicles he drove and if he had been to the doctor for different reasons.
Mr Clarke was asked about past employment but said he couldn’t remember when he worked for particular companies although said he drove an articulated lorry.
Mrs Thomson then asked: “Do you know that six people died on December 22, 2014?”
He replied: “I don’t want to answer that question.”
She asked: “Do you know that Mr Sweeney who died that day was a father and a grandfather?”
Mr Clarke said “No.”
He was asked: “Did you know he was with his wife and daughter and granddaughter when he died that day?”
Mr Clarke replied: “No.”
He was asked: “Did you know Mrs Sweeney, his wife, was a mother and grandmother?”
Mr Clarke answered: “No.”
Mrs Thomson asked: “Did you know she was with her husband and granddaughter and her daughter that day?”
He replied: “No.”
She continued: “Did you know Erin McQuade was a young woman who died that day along with her grandparents?”
Mr Clarke said: “No, I never knew that day.”
Mrs Thomson asked: “Do you know Mrs McQuade who is Erin’s mother, who was with Erin and her mum and her dad when they died that day?”
He answered: “No.”
He was asked: “Do you now that that family have been in court every day.”
Mr Clarke said: “No, I didn’t know that.”
Mrs Thomson said: “Do you know Jacqueline Morton was a mum and grandmother and partner when she did that day.”
He said: “No I never knew that day.”
She continued: “Do you know she leaves behind two sons and granddaughters, you know that?”
Mr Clarke said: “No.”
He was asked: “You know Stephenie Tait was a young woman, a daughter that leaves behind her parents and her friends, you know that?”
He answered: “No.”
Mrs Thomson said: “You know that Gillian Ewing was a mum and a partner and do you know she leaves daughters behind?”
Mr Clarke replied: “No.”
He was asked: “Do you know that these families have been in court every day to get answers, you know that?”
Mr Clarke said: “I don’t know how many days they have been in court.”
Mrs Thomson put to him: “Mr Clarke do you know that these family have been in court to hear answers.”
He replied: “I would imagine they would want answers, yes.”
The inquiry heard that he knew from reports in the media that others had been injured as a result of the incident.
Mr Clarke said he understood that it was his choice to answer questions.
Mrs Thomson said: “Do you understand by making that choice to answer you are putting yourself first.”
He answered: “I wouldn’t agree with that."
Mr Clarke was shown entries from his medical records dating back to 1976.
He was asked about an entry noting “vasovagal attack” in 1989 and asked if he remembered the incident but said “I don’t wish to answer that”.
In 1997 it was noted “low mood” and when asked if he remembered suffering that at that time in his life he said “no”.
He was asked a number of questions that he said he didn’t want to answer including, “do you have a daughter” and “were you married”.
Mr Clarke was asked if he remembered being off sick in April 2010 and said “no”.
He was shown an attendance record for First Bus showing a sickness in April 2010.
He then told the inquiry: “April 2010, I was off sick, that was the time with First Bus.”
Mrs Thomson asked: “Were you off for as long as four weeks?”
He replied: “Can’t really remember” and said “it was more than a couple of weeks I think”.
Mr Clarke was asked what was wrong with him and he said “I don’t want to answer that.”
The inquiry before sheriff Beckett QC continues.