Scottish postmasters will be cleared by summer, ScotGov says

ScotGov plans new legislation to exonerate postmasters

ScotGov looks to clear sub-postmasters names by this summer following the announcement that Westminster will extend its Post Office bill to include Northern Ireland.

THE Scottish Government has announced it will introduce new legislation this coming summer to exonerate the names of wrongfully accused postmasters across Scotland.

This follows on from the announcement that the UK Government has extended its own Post Office Offences Bill to quash convictions in Northern Ireland as well as England and Wales.

This will leave Scotland has the only country in the UK not to be included in the new Post Office bill due to its separate legal jurisdiction from England and Wales and that the Lord Advocate & Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal service in Scotland had a role in the convictions.

Further to this, the UK Government has stated that Northern Ireland is facing other challenges currently due to the Northern Ireland Assembly not having sat for two years.

Kevin Hollinrake, Post Office affairs minister, said: “It has become clear that postmasters in Northern Ireland could have their convictions quashed significantly later than those who were convicted in England and Wales, which would be unacceptable.

“This follows the decision to introduce landmark legislation – which is making its way through parliament – to quash the convictions of hundreds of innocent sub-postmasters wrongly convicted as a result of the Horizon scandal.

“This will speed up the financial redress process – where we are offering a £600,000 fixed sum which can be administered quickly for those who accept it.”

First Minister Humza Yousaf has called the move from Westminster “scandalous” and has slammed the decision from Westminster, claiming the UK Government is using Scottish sub-postmasters as “political pawns”.

He said: “I’m utterly furious by the fact that the UK Government has chosen to extend its legislation to every part of the UK, except for Scotland.

“The unfair treatment of Scottish sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses is completely unacceptable.”

In response to this, a UK Government spokesperson said: “Justice is a devolved matter in Scotland, so it is right that Scottish ministers remain accountable for decisions taken in Scotland.

“The Scottish Government has already indicated that they are bringing forward proposals to overturn all convictions relating to the Horizon scandal in Scotland.”