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Bus driver sacked after knocking over cyclist was not unfairly dismissed

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

In the case of S Beech v Lothian Buses, Sam Beech, a bus driver for Lothian Buses had pulled away from a bus stop when a cyclist tried to overtake him and banged his wing mirror. The cyclist then pedalled in front of the bus and gestured to the driver. Camera footage played during last month’s tribunal showed the bus then accelerating to 19mph, while the cyclist was in front, before the collision took place.

The cyclist was injured and taken to hospital as a result of the incident. Mr Beech, who represented himself in proceedings, claimed he was “already committed” to accelerating the bus and that he tried to brake and swerve to avoid the cyclist who he says lost his balance and fell into the vehicle.

The 39-year-old also said the cyclist was under the influence of alcohol and was not wearing reflective gear, which he said had a bearing on events. But the lawyer representing Lothian Buses, Will Rollinson, said Mr Beech should have braked when the cyclist struck his wing mirror and that the subsequent acceleration was “reckless” conduct. Mr Rollinson also stressed that his employer did not need criminal fault and simply needed to trust its driver and, in this case, it could not trust Mr Beech.

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.”

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