Justice for Scottish postmasters

ScotGov lays out new bill to exonerate sub-postmasters

ScotGov has finally unveiled its own Post Office Offences Bill which promises to exonerate wrongfully accused sub-postmasters north of the border in line with the rest of the UK.

SCOTTISH sub-postmasters are set to have their names cleared this summer as ScotGov unveils its new Post Office (Horizon System) Offences (Scotland) Bill.

The bill aims to ensure a swift delivery of justice for all those who were wrongfully convicted due to the faulty Horizon system and subsequent cover-up from chiefs at the Post Office.

While the bill is still awaiting royal assent, ScotGov has confirmed that it will expedite the legislation to allow justice to be delivered as quickly as possible and in line with the rest of the UK.

Westminster announced it would introduce its own bill earlier this year, which would see sub-postmasters across England, Wales and Northern Ireland exonerated, and is set to become law this summer.

Scotland marks the only UK nation not to be included in Westminster’s bill as the original convictions were a devolved matter for Scotland and were handled by the country’s own Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

This has caused a point of contention for the Scottish parliament, with the former First Minister Humza Yousaf calling it “scandalous,” and accusing Westminster of using sub-postmasters north of the border as “political pawns”.

Despite this, ScotGov has confirmed that Scottish postmasters who qualify under this bill will have access to the UK Government’s compensation scheme, which is promising the wrongfully accused at least £600,000 each.

Speaking on the introduction of the new Scottish bill, Angela Constance, justice secretary for Scotland, said: “Innocent sub-postmasters had their lives ruined by being wrongly convicted of offences of dishonesty on the evidence of the faulty Post Office Horizon system.

“The quickest, easiest route to overturn these miscarriages of justice would have been for the UK Government to extend their Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Bill to cover sub-postmasters in Scotland. However, our repeated requests for this were refused.

“Our bill, therefore, mirrors that of UK legislation to ensure parity for affected sub-postmasters in Scotland with those elsewhere in the UK and to ensure access to the UK Government’s compensation scheme.

“The scale of the scandal and the length of time that the victims have waited for justice means we are taking an unprecedented step of introducing legislation to right this terrible wrong and asking parliament for it to be processed as an emergency bill.

“The Scottish Government will not do anything to jeopardise equality and parity for victims, so the final stage of the bill cannot be considered in the Scottish Parliament until after the UK legislation has been passed.

“This will ensure that MSPs can take account of any amendments made to the UK bill.”