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    Post Office IT scandal: Scottish victims to face longer wait for justice

    (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

    Scottish victims of the Post Office Horizon scandal might have to face longer waits for justice and compensation than their English and Welsh counterparts, state recent reports as calls are heating up to bring a single Bill applying across all of the UK.

    Despite previous complaints from the SNP about the UK government overreaching and “destroying devolution” by interfering in Scottish laws, Humza Yousaf pleaded with UK ministers to help deal with those who faced criminal convictions due to the faulty Post Office computer systems.

    Fast-tracked legislation is being introduced in the House of Commons to clear the names of those who were wrongly convicted and pay them compensation, but this would only apply in England and Wales. It has led SNP justice secretary Angela Constance to hit out at this as “unclear” and confess that Scottish sub-postmasters may be forced to wait even longer for justice.

    She insisted that she knew best and that having a single Bill applying across all of the UK would be the “best way to ensure that there is a quick, fair and equal solution for all affected sub-postmasters”.

    Her comments came after Post Office minister Kevin Hollinrake confirmed that the legislation would not cover Scotland or Northern Ireland. Hollinrake said on February (8) that as prosecutions in both Scotland and Northern Ireland were carried out by the “relevant authorities” in these areas, it was for the Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly – which have responsibility for holding these bodies to account – to introduce their own legislation.

    Within the SNP administration and the Crown Office there is a row brewing over the legality of pardoning every victim, as Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain insisting that it should be done on a case-by-case basis, while Yousaf wants a blanket pardon. Scottish Government officials will now need to come up with their own legislation.

    About 100 sub-postmasters in Scotland were convicted after being wrongly accused of embezzling money, with Constance confirming in a letter to Holyrood’s Criminal Justice Committee that she is “currently working to develop equivalent legislation to be introduced in the Scottish Parliament to reverse the convictions of sub-postmasters convicted in the Scottish courts”, Scottish Daily Express reported.

    She added that this would “ensure that they are not disadvantaged if the UK Government does not change its position on this matter”. To help with this, she said she had asked the UK Government for a copy of its proposed Bill, so that “equivalent legislation” could be “introduced in the Scottish Parliament as quickly as possible”.

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