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    Post Office scandal: Scotland introduces bill to exonerate wrongly convicted sub-postmasters

    A new legislation has been introduced to the Scottish parliament to exonerate sub-postmasters wrongly convicted as a result of the faulty Horizon IT system.

    Those whose convictions are quashed under the Post Office (Horizon System) Offences (Scotland) Bill, tabled on Tuesday, will then be able to access the UK government financial redress scheme.

    The bill’s passage through the Scottish parliament will be expedited to allow justice and redress to be delivered to victims as swiftly as possible in line with the UK bill, which was not extended to cover sub-postmasters in Scotland.

    “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,” justice secretary Angela Constance said.

    “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.”

    If passed, the bill will mean relevant convictions are automatically quashed on the day the legislation comes into force and those exonerated will then be able to access the UK Government financial redress scheme, in line with its requirements.

    The legislation will exonerate convicted sub-postmasters where the following criteria are met:

    • the conviction was for embezzlement, fraud, theft, uttering or an ancillary offence committed between 23 September 1996 and 31 December 2018
    • the person was carrying on a Post Office business, or working in a Post Office for the purpose of a Post Office business
    • the conviction was in connection with carrying on, or working for the purpose of the Post Office business
    • the Horizon system was being used for the purposes of the Post Office business in the relevant Post Office
    • the conviction has not been considered by the High Court in connection with an appeal.

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