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Saturday 10th
posted by Paddy McGuffin in Britain

Families of crash victims distraught by ruling

THE driver of a bin lorry which crashed and killed six people in Glasgow will be spared a private prosecution sought by the victims’ relatives, a judge ruled yesterday.

In a rare legal bid, family members of three victims had asked for permission from senior judges to bring criminal charges against driver Harry Clarke.

Only two such private prosecutions have been granted since 1900.

This comes after the Crown Office had made a controversial decision not to prosecute him for blacking out behind the wheel on the basis of having insufficient evidence.

Three days before Christmas nearly two years ago, Mr Clarke lost consciousness while driving a bin lorry and ran into shoppers and pedestrians before crashing into the Millennium Hotel on Queen Street.

Relatives of crash victims Jack and Lorraine Sweeney, 68 and 69, and their granddaughter Erin McQuade, 18, brought the prosecution attempt to court. Stephenie Tait, 29, Jacqueline Morton, 51, and Gillian Ewing, 52, also died in the incident.

It emerged that Mr Clarke, 59, had a history of health issues — including blackouts — but had not disclosed his medical background to his employers or the DVLA.

A sheriff found that Mr Clarke “repeatedly lied in order to gain and retain jobs and licences.”

The family’s attempt to launch a private prosecution against Mr Clarke for dangerous driving and causing death by dangerous driving was however denied by three judges at the Appeal Court in Edinburgh yesterday.

The court also rejected a similar plea for a private prosecution of motorist William Payne, lodged by the families of students Mhairi Convy and Laura Stewart, who were knocked down and killed in Glasgow in 2010.

Scotland’s second-highest Judge Lady Dorrian, who heard the Bills for Criminal Letters with two other judges, ruled in both cases that: “We do not consider that the Crown made an error of law.”

Outside the court family members expressed their disappointment at the ruling.

Mhairi’s father Alan Convy said it gives other drivers with potentially dangerous health conditions the “green light” to get on the road and put people’s lives at risk.

“How many more innocent daughters, parents, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews have to die before the crown does the right thing and send out the right message to the public?” he said.

“If this ruling is the law, then the law is wrong in our eyes and it needs to be changed.”