Bill to Nullify Horizon Convictions Released

Credits: The Times

Legislation aimed at rectifying wrongful convictions stemming from the Post Office Scandal has been officially introduced ahead of parliamentary debate.

The Post Office (Horizon System) Offence Bill, which has been long-awaited, proposes to automatically overturn convictions of Post Office operators from 1996 to 2018, provided they involve offenses like false accounting, theft, or fraud related to the Horizon system and have not been reviewed by the Court of Appeal.

However, critics have raised concerns about the bill’s potential impact on the separation of powers between Parliament and the Courts.

Bill to Nullify Horizon Convictions (Credits:

They argue that instead of legislative interventions, resources should be allocated to enable convictions to be overturned through legal proceedings, safeguarding the rule of law and preventing dangerous precedents.

Another criticism is the bill’s geographical limitation to England and Wales, excluding Scotland and other devolved regions. Scotland’s Justice Secretary Angela Constance has voiced disappointment over this limitation, calling for UK-wide legislation.

Nonetheless, six former sub-postmasters in Scotland have already had their convictions overturned through individual court proceedings.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has emphasized the significance of the legislation in clearing the names of those affected. The Department for Business and Trade will primarily manage its implementation, with the government aiming for passage by the end of July.

Bill to Nullify Horizon Convictions Released (Credits: The Independent)

In addition to the bill, three financial compensation schemes have been devised to address the plight of those wrongfully convicted, including covering legal expenses for those involved in pivotal cases exposing the flaws of the Horizon system.

The Horizon system, utilized by Post Office branches for accounting purposes, led to over 700 convictions spanning nearly 15 years. Revelations of its inadequacy in generating incorrect shortfalls and errors have characterized it as “the UK’s most widespread miscarriage of justice.”

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