Justice for Scottish postmasters delayed

Westminster set to confirmed new legislation to clear convicted subpostmasters south of the border

Anglea Constance, justice secretary for Scotland.
Justice secretary Angela Constance has confirmed the Scottish Government would pursue its own legislation to exonerate subpostmasters in Scotland if Westminster does not agree to a four nations approach.                                                        Photo Credit: flickr.com/ScottishGovernment

UK Government is set to introduce a new legislation to quash convictions related to the Horizon Scandal in England and Wales today.

As announced in February, the new law will see hundreds of subpostmasters from south of the border be exonerated of their crimes and be offered a fixed and final offer of £600,000 as compensation, should they choose to accept it.

Rishi Sunak, prime minister, said: “I want to pay tribute to all the postmasters who have shown such courage and perseverance in their fierce campaign for justice, and to those who tragically won’t see the justice they deserve.

“While I know that nothing can make up for what they’ve been through, today’s legislation marks an important step forward in finally clearing their names.”

While the new law will quash convictions for those subpostmasters in England and Wales who were wrongfully convicted, Scottish postmasters still have some time to wait.

This is despite first minister Humza Yousaf writing to the prime minister to urge a solution where all four nations could deliver on this together.

Scottish exonerations would need to be handled separately however, as the Scottish Crown Office made the initial convictions on the matter.

It does mean that the Scottish Government would need to seek approval from Westminster on such a law, delaying the process for justice here in Scotland.

Anglea Constance, justice secretary for Scotland, has once again urged Westminster to come together to reach a final decision on the matter but, if this is not to be, she also confirmed Scotland would introduce its own legislation to quash convictions.

She said: “We, along with the Northern Ireland Executive, urged the UK Government to introduce UK-wide legislation as the best way to ensure there is a quick, fair and equal solution for all affected sub-postmasters, particularly as the Post Office is reserved to Westminster, so this announcement is extremely disappointing.

“It is not too late for the UK Government to change their position but if this continues to be refused, we will introduce Scottish legislation that delivers justice for all those affected.

“It is likely that this would need to be passed after a UK bill is passed to ensure full compatibility with UK legislation and the UK compensation scheme, in which the Scottish Government has no locus, but we will do everything in our power to work as quickly as possible.”