Last reviewed 28 April 2021

A bus driver who had worked for Lothian Buses Ltd since September 2008 was sacked on 27 September 2019 after hitting a cyclist.

Sam Beech claimed wrongful dismissal and his case was heard by the Edinburgh Employment Tribunal with full details of the case available — here.

He told the Tribunal that he had undertaken the Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) qualification which is a professional qualification for bus drivers and requires 35 hours of classroom training every five years. The training includes how to deal with vulnerable road users such as cyclists.

However, while driving a double decker bus, Mr Beech was involved in an incident in Edinburgh in which a cyclist was injured and taken to hospital. The cyclist banged the outside wing mirror of the bus as Mr Beech was pulling out of a bus stop. He had not seen the cyclist who then pulled in front of the bus, made obscene gestures and used foul language. The bus then hit the cyclist who fell off his bike.

Following an accident report completed by a supervisor, an investigatory meeting took place and Mr Beech was told that he was being suspended pending further investigation, with “careless/reckless driving” given as the reason. At a disciplinary hearing in September 2019, he was told that the decision had been taken to dismiss him for gross misconduct.

Mr Beech appealed, arguing that the cyclist involved did not have any lights on and was under the influence of alcohol. Claiming that the punishment was too harsh, he said: “The police also stated that I was not blameworthy for this accident.”

After further appeals, Mr Beech was dismissed and took the case to the Employment Tribunal.

It has now concluded that he had been dismissed solely as a consequence of the incident on 21 September 2019, that the respondent had followed a fair procedure in relation to the claimant’s dismissal and that the dismissal had been within the band of reasonable responses.

Employment Judge Jones said: “The respondent had a genuine belief that the claimant had acted in a dangerous and unacceptable manner, and given the nature of the claimant’s duties where he worked unsupervised and was required to ensure the safety of passengers and other road users, the decision to dismiss the claimant was a reasonable one.”