Every Scottish sub-postmaster and sub-postmistress convicted as a result of the Horizon IT scandal will have their conviction quashed, Humza Yousaf has promised. 

The First Minister said the Scottish Government would look at either adopting the new law announced by Rishi Sunak on Wednesday or developing separate legislation to deliver the same effect for Scotland.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Yousaf said the Post Office Horizon scandal required "urgent action to ensure those affected by unjust convictions can finally receive justice".

READ MORE: Sunak announces new law to exonerate Post Office scandal victims

Faulty centralised accounting software designed by Fujitsu and installed in the late 1990s made it look as if owner-operators in charge of sub-post offices had stolen money. 

Despite knowing that there were faults in the centralised accounting software, the Post Office pursued many of those caught up in the scandal. 

As a result, nearly 700 were wrongly prosecuted across the UK, including around 100 in Scotland. 

Many of the victims died before they could clear their names. The scandal has been linked to four suicides.

So far, only 16 people north of the border have asked the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission to look at their convictions.

Of those, just two have had convictions overturned.

Another four are currently appealing their convictions to the High Court of Justiciary Appeal Court, with decisions expected next month.

There has been a groundswell of public anger in recent days thanks to the ITV drama, Mr Bates Vs the Post Office, based on the stories of some of those wrongly pursued. 

The Herald: Numerous postmasters were wrongly prosecuted between 1999 and 2015 after being accused of fraud,

At the start of Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Sunak told MPs that the UK Government would bring in new legislation to make sure subpostmasters convicted as a result of the Horizon scandal are "swiftly exonerated and compensated."

He described the scandal as “one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in our nation’s history”.

The Herald:

The Prime Minister promised to “right the wrongs of the past”.

With justice devolved, the new law will only apply to England and Wales, but speaking to MPs following the Prime Minister's announcement, Post Office minister Kevin Hollinrake said the UK Government would engage with the administration in Scotland.

“We'll do these things as quickly as we can and keep the house informed," he said. 

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Yousaf said Scottish ministers were "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."  

He added: "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."

The First Minister said Scottish Justice Secretary, Angela Constance would contact her counterpart in Whitehall to "discuss how best to progress work in this area, 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."  

Speaking to broadcasters, Mr Yousaf said those affected by the scandal in Scotland should be "absolutely assured that they too will be pardoned".

He said it was important that "nobody has to wait for a day longer for justice because they've waited far too long regardless of where they are in the United Kingdom".

READ MORE: Horizon IT scandal: Lib Dem leader Ed Davey under pressure

In his exchanges with MPs, Mr Hollinrake admitted that the new law was an “imperfect” solution, but that it was hard to find any other remedy that wouldn’t “leave many people suffering under the burden of unjust convictions for many years, or perhaps forever with no access to compensation".

The usual method for overturning a conviction would involve the courts, but with nearly 1,000 people caught up in the scandal, the UK Government is taking the unprecedented legislative route.

Mr Hollinrake said he was aware that the move "raises important constitutional issues" around the independence of the courts.

The minister said there would be people who had acted criminally, and the government wanted to “avoid guilty people walking away with hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money".

He said those receiving compensation would need to sign a statement saying that they did not commit the crimes of which they were accused with anyone subsequently found to have signed such a statement untruthfully putting themselves at risk of prosecution or fraud.

READ MORE: Horizon scandal: Constance requests meeting with UK minister

The scandal was raised during Prime Minister's Questions, with SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn telling MPs that the public was “angry” with Parliament.

He said the injustice "goes far beyond just the subpostmasters,” Mr Flynn said, listing other scandals including the infected blood scandal, Grenfell, Hillsborough and others.

He said: “The reality is that when the public come knocking on the doors of this here chamber seeking justice the Government only ever answers when they have no options left.”

He said the public is “angry at Westminster” because “they know that this place never really changes”.

The Herald:

Mr Sunak said the SNP politician was "trying to politicise something that has happened over multiple decades, with multiple people at fault.”

He said the Government acted after a 2019 court case and said the focus should be on those affected.