Humza Yousaf has said his letter to Rishi Sunak on the Post Office Horizon scandal has received a “positive” response as he pledged that the UK and Scottish governments will work quickly to overturn wrongful convictions.
The First Minister wrote to the Prime Minister to ask for a UK-wide approach to quashing the convictions of nearly 1,000 Post Office workers across the UK.
Hundreds of sub-postmasters were convicted of swindling money on the basis of evidence from the flawed Horizon accounting system.
Rishi Sunak previously announced all those wrongfully convicted in England and Wales will be cleared.
It’s thought about 100 of convictions took place in Scotland – with just two being overturned.
After receiving a “positive” response to the letter, Yousaf confirmed that the legislation overturning the convictions will be applied on a UK-wide basis.
He also reiterated that the easiest way to do this is through a legislative consent motion, where Holyrood allows Westminster to pass a law affecting a devolved area.
The First Minister said: “Well, I’m grateful to the Prime Minister for writing back to me quickly and responding back to say that he is willing to work with the Scottish Government in terms of the legislation that the UK Government will bring forward to overturn the wrongful convictions in relation to the dreadful Post Office Horizon scandal.
“Now, there will be complexities that we have to work through.”
Scotland’s top prosecutor, Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC, apologised in a statement at Holyrood on Tuesday to those who were wrongly prosecuted.
She confirmed that the Crown Office had been repeatedly misled and 54 people may have been wrongfully convicted in Scotland.
In England, staff were directly prosecuted by the Post Office but in Scotland they were convicted by the Crown using evidence from the Post Office as a reporting agency.
Yousaf said that those affected have waited “far too long for justice”.
He said: “There’s a different legal system here in Scotland in comparison to England and Wales, but there’s a positive response from the Prime Minister and of course our officials and indeed ministers are engaging as we speak.
“The sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses have waited far too long for justice and far too long for compensation.
“So, let’s look at what is the quickest route and we what we think is the most fair route to try to bring forward this mass exoneration.”
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