BMW and regulator failed to recall faulty cars which led to death

BMW were criticised during Friday’s inquestCredit:John Keeble/Getty BMW were criticised during Friday's inquest Because it was before sunrise, Mr Gurung was unable to see the vehicle until the last moment, when he swerved and hit a tree.  Transport Secretary Chris Grayling A prevention of further deaths notice will now be issued in writing to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and DVSA chief executive Gareth Llewellyn over her “serious concerns” with the agency.The DVSA had been aware of a fault since October 2014 when it started to receive an “unusually high” volume of complaints from drivers, around two a month.  But Woking Coroner’s Court heard that the agency accepted BMW’s case that drivers would get a prior warning before a complete outage and the glitch was not “critical” because drivers were still able to steer and brake despite headlights, hazard lights and brake lights not working. The DVSA even closed down investigations into the complaints before Christmas Day 2016, when Mr Gurung, who served with “exemplary” conduct in the British Army regiment for nearly 20 years, was driving with his wife to the Royal Surrey County Hospital, where they both worked as housekeepers. A colleague’s 2011 BMW 318i saloon had stalled on the Hogs Back road ahead after suffering a “total electrical failure”.  Resham Gurung, who is unrelated but also works as a housekeeper, tried to put on his hazard lights but they failed because of the lack of power.  BMW and the Government’s driving regulator have been condemned by a coroner after their failure to recall faulty cars was blamed for the death of a Gurkha veteran.  The German manufacturer and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) had forseen the “exact circumstances” of Narayan Gurung’s death ten months before it happened, but failed to warn customers or recall a single one of the 370,000 cars across the UK.   The 66-year-old died driving his Ford Fiesta into a tree on a dark road in Hampshire on Christmas Day to avoid a car that had cut out because of a total power outage caused by an electrical fault. Anna Loxton, Assistant Coroner for Surrey, said that BMW was “negligent” in its actions and the DVSA expressed “indolence”, but she could not conclude the father-of-three was unlawfully killed because there was insufficient evidence of corporate manslaughter. In February 2016 the car manufacturer, its UK importer and the agency discussed the risk of a power outage on an unlit road, with one engineer noting “we do not want a fatality”. “Despite recognising this risk, the DVSA failed to call for, and BMW AG and BMW UK failed to initiate, a recall until after Mr Gurung’s death,” Mrs Loxton said in her narrative conclusion.   He was pronounced dead at the scene due to multiple traumatic injuries and his wife was seriously injured. The family’s solicitor Emma Potter said the case raises “critical questions” about vehicle safety in the UK and hit-out BMW for failing to recall the cars sooner. “This delay ultimately contributed to Mr Gurung’s death,” she said.BMW said it would “reflect” on the coroner’s criticisms, adding: “Safety is of paramount importance to BMW – nothing comes before this.”Last month, the company widened its recall of vehicles at risk of electrical faults to include 312,000 UK cars, including BMW 1 Series, 3 Series, Z4 and X1 petrol and diesel made between March 2007 and August 2011.The Government agency previously claimed its response to the issue two years before Mr Gurung’s crash “might have been different” if the German manufacturer had passed on details of the flaw.DVSA chief executive Gareth Llewellyn has admitted the agency’s processes were not sufficiently “robust” or “efficient”, in the wake of a coroner’s damning finding over the death of a Gurkha veteran.Mr Llewellyn said: “We accept the coroner’s findings that, in the past, DVSA’s processes may not have been as robust or as efficient as they needed to be. “We have been addressing this as a matter of urgency and have already made a number of significant changes, ensuring that all reported safety defects are assessed quickly and thoroughly.”Where a manufacturer does not address a safety issue promptly, DVSA will publish its safety defect assessment, in parallel with taking action against the manufacturer, to ensure the public are aware and can make an informed choice.” Transport Secretary Chris GraylingCredit:Jack Taylor/Getty She criticised the DVSA for having no protocol for investigating safety-related defects quickly, having no guidance to interpret its own codes of practice over safety defects and for lacking critical analysis of the defect.  Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.

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