Constance disappointed PO law excludes Scotland

Toby-Jones-as-Alan-Bates in Horizon Post Office drama
Toby Jones starred in an ITV drama about the Post Office scandal

A Scottish minister has expressed disappointment that legislation to clear the names of hundreds of sub-postmasters wrongly convicted in the Post Office scandal will only apply to England and Wales.

The proposed Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Bill will being introduced today will help people whose lives had been “callously torn apart”, said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

It is expected to come in to effect by the end of July and is expected to clear the majority of victims.

However, Scotland and Northern Ireland have been excluded from the legislation and Scottish Justice Secretary Angela Constance urged the UK government to reconsider.

“We, along with the Northern Ireland Executive, urged the UK Government to introduce UK-wide legislation as the best way to ensure there is a quick, fair and equal solution for all affected sub-postmasters, particularly as the Post Office is reserved to Westminster,” said Ms Constance, adding that the the announcement is “extremely disappointing”.

She said: “It is not too late for the UK Government to change their position but if this continues to be refused, we will introduce Scottish legislation that delivers justice for all those affected.

“It is likely that this would need to be passed after a UK Bill is passed to ensure full compatibility with UK legislation and the UK compensation scheme, in which the Scottish Government has no locus, but we will do everything in our power to work as quickly as possible.”

The new law for England and Wales will be introduced today and Mr Sunak said it is “an important step forward in finally clearing” hundreds of sub-postmasters.

People who were not convicted but made up shortfalls from their own pockets will get £75,000.

As announced in September, sub-postmasters who were wrongly convicted will get an option to settle for £600,000, without the need to bring a formal claim.

Between 1999 and 2015, more than 900 sub-postmasters were wrongly prosecuted due to a faulty accounts software called Horizon, which showed errors that did not exist.

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