Scot Gov 'Consider' Prosecution Bid
8 December 2015, 15:44
Any application for public funding for a private prosecution over the Glasgow bin lorry crash would be considered by the Scottish Government.
The Sheriff chairing a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) into the crash ruled on Monday it might have been avoided if driver Harry Clarke had told the truth about his medical history after it emerged he had previously blacked out while at the wheel of a stationary bus.
Mr Clarke lost consciousness when the bin lorry careered along a busy street in the city centre on December 22 last year, killing six people.
In his findings, Sheriff John Beckett QC found the 58-year-old had ''repeatedly lied in order to gain and retain jobs and licences'', and ''deliberately concealed relevant information from the DVLA''.
He found eight ''reasonable precautions'' - all relating to Mr Clarke's medical past - whereby the accident might have been avoided and has made recommendations which could reduce the chance of another such tragedy from happening.
The Crown Office has faced criticism for repeatedly ruling out prosecuting anyone and relatives of three of the victims - Erin McQuade and Jack and Lorraine Sweeney - plan to stage a private prosecution against Mr Clarke.
Such cases are rare in Scotland, with the process described as long and expensive.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "Private prosecutions in Scotland are exceedingly rare and there are a number of steps that would need to be followed before a private prosecution could proceed.
"Scottish ministers would consider any request for public funding towards a private prosecution very carefully, should such an application be made.''
Ms McQuade and her grandparents Mr and Mrs Sweeney lost their lives in the crash along with Stephenie Tait, Jacqueline Morton and Gillian Ewing.
A statement from the McQuade and Sweeney families on Monday said: ``The family note the press release by the Crown and they contend they were right not to prosecute the driver.
"We firmly remain of the view that they are wrong, as is their interpretation of the findings and recommendations.
"As a result, we have instructed our solicitor to commence a prosecution against the driver.''
The statement came after the Crown Office said there were no findings in the Sheriff's determination that undermined its decisions not to prosecute Mr Clarke.
A spokesman said: ``We note the sheriff's findings on the driver's motivation to retain or gain employment.
"It is important to note the sheriff was considering evidence at an FAI where a lesser standard of proof is required and where more relaxed rules of evidence apply.
"A criminal prosecution requires sufficient evidence to the much higher standard beyond reasonable doubt.''