Post Office Horizon cases: letters to UK Government

Letters to UK Government about the Post Office Horizon IT scandal and proposed legislation to reverse the convictions of those affected.

Post Office Horizon letter: 18 April 2024

To: Kevin Hollinrake MP, Minister for Enterprise, Markets and Small Business
Angela Constance MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Home Affairs

I refer to my letter to you of 20 March and to our subsequent meeting on 28 March 2024 to discuss the Post Office (Horizon Offences) Bill ahead of its Committee stage.

The Scottish Government position as outlined to you, is that the best way to achieve parity for the sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses across the UK who were convicted on the basis of tainted evidence from the Post Office Horizon system, is for the current Bill to be extended to Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Extending the Bill to Scotland would ensure there is no delay to the quashing of convictions and access to compensation since any Scottish legislation could not be finalised until after the UK Bill is passed to ensure we can take account of any amendments made throughout the passage of your Bill.

I also said to you that we believe extending the Bill would be relatively simple and in light of discussion at the March Inter-Ministerial Committee meeting where Michael Gove MP was clear that the UK Government would be very open to such an extension, stating the “route was still open” for the Bill’s provisions to be extended to Scotland and Northern Ireland, the Scottish Government has prepared the attached draft clauses which demonstrate how the Bill could be amended in a straightforward way to extend provisions to Scotland.

As you will see the 15 proposed amendments (Annex A - see supporting documents) are neither complex nor extensive and take full account of differences in Scottish criminal law and practice and the difference in the offences which were prosecuted in Scotland using tainted evidence from the Horizon System. Their purpose and effect is at Annex B (below).

I therefore urge you to table these amendments and bring certainty and clarity for those who have suffered wrongful convictions in Scotland. I would ask you to let me know if you will do so ahead of the Committee Stage of the Bill.

My officials would be happy to discuss the proposed amendments with their UK Government counterparts as I would with you.

I am copying this letter to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Chair of the House of Commons Business and Trade Committee, and Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Criminal Justice Committee. I am also publishing this letter and proposed amendments on the Scottish Government website as we have done with previous correspondence on this matter

Annex A: proposed Scottish Governments to UK Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Bill - see supporting documents section

Annex B: purpose and effect of proposed Scottish Government amendments to UK Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Bill - see supporting documents section

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