ScotGov urges extension of post office compensation law

Scottish minister seeks UK-wide approach

Angela Constance MSP has once again urged for a UK-wide approach to clearing the convictions of sub-postmasters across the country in a written letter to Westminster.                                                                                                          Photo Credit:

THE Scottish Government has once again called for a UK-wide approach to clearing the convictions of sub-postmasters in a written letter to Westminster.

In a letter to Kevin Hollinrake, minister for enterprise, markets and small business, Angela Constance, justice secretary for Scotland, has urged it as “the best way to achieve parity for the sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses across the UK”.

Constance said: “Extending the Bill to Scotland would ensure there is no delay to the quashing of convictions and access to compensation since any Scottish legislation could not be finalised until after the UK Bill is passed to ensure we can take account of any amendments made throughout the passage of your Bill.”

As the convictions of sub-postmasters in Scotland was conducted by the Scottish Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal, this matter of compensation would be a devolved one for the Scottish Parliament, unless Westminster agrees to the UK-wide approach.

The UK Government announced it would introduce new legislation this summer that would not only quash the convictions of sub-postmasters in England and Wales, but also offer the option of £600,000 in compensation to those wrongfully convicted.

In response to ScotGov’s letter, a UK Government spokesperson said: “In Scotland, prosecutions were undertaken by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

“It is therefore right that overturning convictions in Scotland is determined, delivered and scrutinised by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament.

“The Scottish Government has already indicated that they are bringing forward legislation and we are working closely with them as we progress legislation to ensure equitable outcomes for victims across the UK.”

The legislation comes following on from the airing of the ITV drama ‘Mr Bates vs The Post Office’ that highlighted the story of hundreds of sub-postmasters across the UK and the miscarriage of justice they suffered due to the failings of the Horizon system.

At the time the new law was announced, 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, this legislation marks an important step forward in finally clearing their names.”