New legislation to exonerate Scottish subpostmasters wrongly convicted because of the Horizon IT scandal is set to be rushed through Holyrood next week.

The Post Office (Horizon System) Offences (Scotland) Bill, introduced to the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, follows a furious row between ministers in Edinburgh and London. 

The Scottish Government has long called for their counterparts in Whitehall to legislate for the whole of the UK. 

However, they were repeatedly told that as justice is devolved and as prosecutions were undertaken in a completely separate system that it was for ministers in Edinburgh to come up with their own solution.

A last-ditch attempt by SNP MPs to change the law in Parliament was rejected last month. 

READ MORE: MPs reject bid to include Scotland in Bill to exonerate Horizon scandal victims

If passed by MSPs, the new Scottish legislation will mean relevant convictions are automatically quashed on the day the legislation comes into force and those exonerated will then be able to access the UK Government financial redress scheme.

The new law will cover those with a conviction for embezzlement, fraud, theft, uttering or an ancillary offence committed between 23 September 1996 and 31 December 2018.

And it will only apply if the person was "carrying out Post Office business, or working in a Post Office for the purpose of a Post Office business," and if the conviction "was in connection with carrying on, or working for the purpose of the Post Office business."

The Bill will not apply to subpostmasters whose conviction has been considered by the High Court in connection with an appeal.

The Stage 1 debate and vote on the general principles of the Bill is expected to take place in the Scottish Parliament next Tuesday, with Stage 2 amendments being considered on Wednesday.

However, the final stages cannot be debated or voted on until the UK Government's Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Bill makes it way through Parliament. 

Justice Secretary Angela Constance said: “Innocent sub-postmasters had their lives ruined by being wrongly convicted of offences of dishonesty on the evidence of the faulty Post Office Horizon system.

"The quickest, easiest route to overturn these miscarriages of justice would have been for the UK Government to extend their Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Bill to cover sub-postmasters in Scotland.

"However, our repeated requests for this were refused. Our Bill, therefore, mirrors that of UK legislation to ensure parity for affected sub-postmasters in Scotland with those elsewhere in the UK and to ensure access to the UK Government’s compensation scheme.

“The scale of the scandal and the length of time that the victims have waited for justice means we are taking an unprecedented step of introducing legislation to right this terrible wrong and asking Parliament for it to be processed as an emergency Bill.

"The Scottish Government will not do anything to jeopardise equality and parity for victims, so the final stage of the Bill cannot be considered in the Scottish Parliament until after the UK legislation has been passed.

"This will ensure that MSPs can take account of any amendments made to the UK Bill.”

READ MORE: UK Government knock back SNP plea for Horizon bill to cover Scotland

Earlier in the year, Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC has warned against a quick solution for the Scottish victims. She said that it was “imperative that due process is followed.”

She said the “right process” for people to clear their names was through the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) and the High Court of Appeal.

Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Russell Findlay said the legislation was “welcome and long overdue”.

The Tory MSP said: “SNP ministers knew from the outset that Scotland’s distinct legal system and prosecution mechanism required a separate law to deliver justice to Scottish sub-postmasters.

“But instead of getting on and delivering it, the SNP typically wasted time on a constitutional spat with the UK Government, as well as creating confusion on whether they backed blanket exonerations.

“Given that this legislation looks to be largely a copy-and-paste job, Scottish victims of this appalling scandal have needlessly been kept in the dark for longer than those in the rest of the UK.”