Scots who were convicted as part of the Horizon IT scandal will be exonerated, Humza Yousaf has said.
The First Minister has written 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.
It’s thought about 100 of these convictions took place in Scotland – with just two being overturned.
Hundreds of subpostmasters were convicted of swindling money on the basis of evidence from the flawed Horizon accounting system, with MPs told the Post Office showed “not only incompetence but malevolence” in the way it acted against them.
The Horizon system started to be rolled out in Post Office branches across the UK in 1999 and over the subsequent years, a series of subpostmasters were prosecuted over missing funds.
Rishi Sunak announced earlier on Wednesday that emergency legislation will be introduced to clear those convicted.
In England, people were prosecuted by the Post Office but in Scotland, responsibility lies with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.
Yousaf said he would consider taking measures to ensure any legislation that applied to England and Wales would also apply to Scotland.
During his announcement to the House of Commons, UK Post Office minister Kevin Hollinrake said he would be keen to work with devolved governments to ensure Northern Ireland and Scotland are not disadvantaged.
Yousaf said he is also keen to work with the UK Government to ensure people in Scotland are not disadvantaged.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, said: “Scottish Ministers are keen to work with the UK Government to deal with the impact on sub-postmasters convicted in Scotland, ensuring that a UK-wide approach is taken to exonerate those wrongfully convicted in Scottish courts.
“Given the unique circumstances arising from the Post Office Horizon scandal, it is right that normal processes for appeals are set aside to ensure that justice can now be delivered for those whose lives were greatly impacted by their wrongful conviction.”
He said Angela Constance, Scotland’s justice secretary, will contact her UK-wide counterpart to resolve the issue “whether this is by ensuring that the UK legislation will either apply directly in Scotland or by developing separate Scottish legislation to deliver the same effect for Scotland”.
He added: “I trust that we can work together to ensure that those affected are now able to have their convictions overturned and obtain compensation.”
Legislation in the House of Commons to exonerate Post Office staff is expected to go through the parliament in the coming weeks.
The scale of the scandal has prompted the UK Government to adopt the unconventional approach of new legislation, rather than requiring individuals to challenge their convictions.
UK ministers acknowledged the plan could result in some subpostmasters who did commit crimes being wrongly cleared but insisted the process was the most effective way of dealing with the vast majority who were victims of a miscarriage of justice.
The Prime Minister described the scandal as “one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in our nation’s history”.
The Horizon IT scandal has been back in the headlines following the STV programme Mr Bates vs The Post Office.
Mr Bates vs The Post Office is available to watch on STV Player
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