Long ‘deeply disappointed’ as NI excluded from law to exonerate subpostmasters

Northern Ireland’s justice minister has said she is “deeply disappointed” that legislation to exonerate subpostmasters wronged in the Horizon scandal excludes the region.

Naomi Long said she will “urgently” review options to provide an alternative remedy for subpostmasters in Northern Ireland.

Details of blanket legislation to exonerate subpostmasters convicted in England and Wales was published on Thursday after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak earlier this year said they were victims of “one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in our nation’s history”.

However, Ms Long criticised the Westminster Government after it failed to include Northern Ireland in its legislation.

“Whilst the operation of courts in Northern Ireland is a devolved matter, subpostmasters who are affected by unjust convictions should receive swift justice and equitable treatment in line with their counterparts in the rest of the UK,” she said.

“I firmly believe that any Westminster legislation to reverse the convictions of subpostmasters should be UK-wide.

“This would be the best way forward, given that postal services are a reserved matter and the associated compensation schemes are UK-wide.

“This would also be the fastest legislative solution and avoids differential treatment between jurisdictions, including in terms of accessing compensation.

“I am deeply disappointed that the UK Government has decided to legislate in England and Wales only, having indicated publicly their desire to legislate UK-wide.

“In light of this decision, I will now urgently review the options available to provide an alternative remedy for subpostmasters in Northern Ireland.”

More than 700 Post Office branch managers around the UK were prosecuted between 1999 and 2015 after the faulty Horizon accounting software made it look as though money was missing from their shops.

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