Crown Office complaints over Glasgow bin lorry programme upheld

Three complaints by the Crown Office about a TV programme on the Glasgow Bin Lorry crash have been upheld.The BBC Trust upheld complaints about Lies, Laws and the Bin Lorry Tragedy, which was broadcast in 2015.The programme looked at the decision not to prosecute Harry Clarke over the crash in December 2014 which killed six people and aired accusations against Crown Office staff, including the claim that head of the Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit, David Green, called Mr Clark “fat and uneducated”.

Mr Green denied he said this and the BBC Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee noted the documentary did not say a colleague of his corroborated the story.

In addition, it upheld the complaint that Mr Green had no right of reply as a civil servant.

Nor did the documentary state that former Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC thought it would be inappropriate to be interviewed while a fatal accident inquiry was ongoing.

A Crown Office spokeswoman said: “We raised a complaint about the BBC’s failure to accurately report our position and we note that the BBC Trust has now accepted that was the case.”

But BBC Scotland disagreed with the trust’s conclusions, saying it “took great care to make sure the programme was fair to the Crown Office”.

The Editorial Standards Committee explained that it wanted to “emphasise that the public interest in the administration of justice provided the strongest possible editorial justification for making the documentary, for telling the victims’ relatives’ stories and for broadcasting their version of events, notwithstanding that those claims were disputed.

“Nevertheless, when making programmes containing strong criticism of public bodies and officials, it was essential that programme makers complied strictly with the editorial guidelines, in order to ensure that the BBC maintained the highest editorial standards on behalf of licence fee payers”.


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