Scotland’s first minister has advised Sky News the Post Office was “deceitful” if it withheld details about the dodgy Horizon system that led to sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses being criminalised.
Unlike in England and Wales, the Crown Office was chargeable for taking instances to courtroom in Scotland based mostly on info fed to it by Post Office officers.
On Tuesday, Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC apologised to victims and advised Holyrood that prosecutors had been “repeatedly misled” by the Post Office.
To date, 4 convictions have been overturned in Scotland.
Questioned on Wednesday by Sky News, Humza Yousaf stated: “It’s clearly deceitful if they have been deceptive the prosecution service of the nation.
“These are very serious charges for the Post Office to answer.”
In response, the Post Office stated it shares the goals of the general public inquiry to “get to the truth of what happened in the past and accountability”.
The spokesperson added: “It’s for the inquiry to reach its own independent conclusions after consideration of all the evidence on the issues it is examining.”
The first minister stated the mass exoneration of victims as a part of a UK-wide system is “the correct way forward”, regardless of considerations not all instances can be miscarriages of justice.
Mr Yousaf stated: “It is the correct way forward as we know many people have waited far too long.
“We should work by way of the complexities of what could be very strong, sound convictions however guarantee those that had been wrongly convicted get the justice they deserve.”
The SNP leader said he “certainty hoped” the harmless victims of the scandal would have their names cleared by the top of this yr.
He and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have vowed to work collectively on the plan.
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Scottish prosecutors had been first made conscious of points with the system in May 2013, however the Post Office stated an exterior legislation agency had reviewed all probably impacted instances and concluded there have been no considerations about accuracy of proof in Scotland in addition to an impartial report which discovered no points with Horizon.
In August of that yr, the Crown Office advised prosecutors to “carefully consider” instances the place Horizon was an element, whereas the next month the Post Office agreed to hunt professional recommendation and an extra report back to help Horizon’s robustness – which they “failed to deliver” on time, in line with the lord advocate.
But it was not till October 2015 when the Crown Office advised its prosecutors to “assess all Post Office cases” with orders issued to “discontinue or take no action in cases which relied on evidence from the Horizon system to prove a crime had been committed”.
The Post Office stated it was working with Scottish authorities to cope with the problems.
A spokesperson stated: “We are doing all we can to right the wrongs of the past, including extensive work to support overturning wrongful convictions and payment of over £138m of compensation for those and others affected.
“This work consists of aiding the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission and the Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Service, as we proceed to help efforts to hurry up the exoneration of individuals with wrongful convictions and pay full and truthful compensation swiftly.”
On Wednesday, Britain’s most senior police officer – Met Police commissioner Sir Mark Rowley – stated it will likely be a minimum of two years till any prison prices are introduced over the scandal.