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Ross writes to Lord Advocate requesting Post Office scandal statement

Douglas Ross has today written to the Lord Advocate urging her to make a statement to parliament to clear up the SNP Government’s “mixed messaging” on delivering justice for Scottish victims of the Post Office scandal.

Dorothy Bain previously implied to parliament in January that she opposed the blanket exoneration of sub-postmasters, yet she now has a key role in the drafting of Scottish legislation which achieves that.

The Scottish Conservative leader is seeking clarity on whether the Lord Advocate’s personal view has changed or whether she disagrees with the principle underpinning the bill.

With stage one of the Post Office Offences Bill pencilled in for May 21 at Holyrood, Mr Ross says victims and the public deserve to hear personally from Ms Bain, after the presiding officer confirmed yesterday (Thursday) that any member of the government can make a request to deliver a ministerial statement.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “SNP ministers seem intent on gagging the Lord Advocate on this crucial issue, because her words in January do not appear to tally with their position.

“We have had weeks of confected outrage from the SNP that UK legislation offering blanket exonerations will not apply here – despite them knowing full well that the different legal system and prosecution mechanism here demands a separate Scottish law.

“But what undermines their argument most is that the Lord Advocate is apparently opposed to the principles underpinning a bill that SNP ministers wanted to apply here, and which they are now largely replicating.

“Scottish victims of this appalling miscarriage of justice need to know if the person who is both head of the Crown Office and the SNP Government’s legal advisor actually believes in their bill, or if she rejects blanket exonerations.

“I have written to the Lord Advocate urging her to make a statement to parliament to clear up the mixed messaging we’re hearing from John Swinney’s government.

“It’s imperative she does so, given that stage one of the bill is just 10 days away and the presiding officer has confirmed there is absolutely no obstacle to her doing so.”

 

 

The Lord Advocate defended the current process of exonerating sub-postmasters through the existing appeals process. Dorothy Bain said: ‘The process that we have in place is the right one. There should be due process, in recognition of the fact that, as I have said, not all Horizon cases will result in a finding of a miscarriage of justice. In some cases, there was other evidence that indicated a reasonable basis for a finding of guilt.’ (Official report, 16 January 2024, link).