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Crown Office complaints upheld over bin lorry broadcasts

3 February 2017

Complaints by the Crown Office over a BBC Scotland documentary about the Glasgow bin lorry tragedy have been upheld by the BBC Trust, the BBC's governing body.

The programme, broadcast in November 2015, explored the decision not to prosecute driver Harry Clarke, who had a history of blackouts, and featured concerns from some of the victims' families about the handling of the case by the prosecution service.

Two of the three complaints upheld concerned a reported claim that David Green, head of the Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit, had described Mr Clarke as "a fat, uneducated man from the West of Scotland [who] doesn't know any better". The ruling said that the programme did not make clear that a colleague of Mr Green could corroborate his denial of the remark, or that civil service rules prevented Mr Green from responding in person before the camera.

It also agreed that the programme did not properly explain that the Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland QC, had felt it inappropriate to be interviewed before the fatal accident inquiry had concluded.

BBC Scotland however stood by its broadcast, saying: "We remain convinced of its veracity and we took great care to make sure the programme was fair to the Crown Office."

Crown Office has also succeeded with one of two complaints over a discussion of the subject on the Jeremy Vine Show on Radio 2. The Trust agreed that inaccurate reasons had been stated by Mr Vine for the decision not to prosecute, but dismissed a claim that he had expressed "unjustified personal opinion" because he was deemed to have been "playing devil's advocate" at the time.

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