Readers' letters: Yousaf should have been ahead of the Horizon pardons game

I am always aware of how First Minister Humza Yousaf and his cohorts keep matters of legislative competence, or incompetence in most cases, out of the clutches of the UK Government at Westminster.

Yet in relation to the Post Office Horizon scandal, he and his Justice Secretary, Angela Constance, openly berate Westminster for not including Scotland when introducing legislation to speed up the process of compensating victims (Scotsman, 24 April).

They seem to forget that Scotland has a different legal system and prosecutions here were brought by the Crown Office and not the Post Office, which must vastly complicate the issue.

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Mr Yousaf had a great opportunity to show that Scotland was ahead of the compensation game by bringing in Scottish legislation before Westminster but apparently sat on his hands and waited for events to overtake him .

The UK Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Bill will exonerate those convicted on the basis of the faulty Horizon accounting software - but does not extend to Scotland (Picture: Adrian Dennissx/ AFP via Getty Images)The UK Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Bill will exonerate those convicted on the basis of the faulty Horizon accounting software - but does not extend to Scotland (Picture: Adrian Dennissx/ AFP via Getty Images)
The UK Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Bill will exonerate those convicted on the basis of the faulty Horizon accounting software - but does not extend to Scotland (Picture: Adrian Dennissx/ AFP via Getty Images)

He should stop moaning and get on with the job of compensating these poor people who have been let down by the Post Office and the government.

Bob MacDougall, Kippen, Stirling

Field was first

The death has been announced of the former Labour MP and Cross party Peer, Frank Field at 81.

Despite the considerable media coverage of the Post Office and Horizon computer scandal in recent years; little attention has been given to the fact Frank Field highlighted the issue as far back as 2000.

As Minister For Welfare Reform, he researched the Horizon project back then and said that the entire Post Office board should have been sacked. It’s in Hansard.

Today we know that thousands of sub postmasters were wrongly accused of accounting shortfalls,750 prosecuted, many were sacked, some made bankrupt, lives utterly destroyed in the biggest miscarriage of justice in British history.

It is well documented that he had many clashes with Tony Blair and, in his autobiography, he wrote about Field “his problem was that many of his thoughts were not so much unthinkable as unfathomable”. Well he got this one right.

John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing, Fife

Missed opportunity

No wonder Humza Yousaf is “utterly” furious at the UK’s refusal to include Scotland in its Horizon pardon legislation.

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No Westminster “power grab”, so no chance to pick holes in the detail, no revenge for their torpedoed gender legislation and no chance of a referendum-triggering “material change in circumstances” (remember them?).

The SNP have had almost 20 years and – since 2019 – the chance for more than 100 MPs and MSPs to make a name for themselves, but it seems they did nothing. They even kept quiet about the fact that the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission have been working since 2020 with sub-postmasters who may have been wrongly convicted in Scotland.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

Valencia’s example

I read and enjoyed Stephen Jardine’s article on his Valencia stay (Scotsman, 20 April) covering the transformation of the city and modernisation of the transport infrastructure and parks.

Valencia was, when I first visited in the 1980s, was heavily industrialised, polluted and congested with ‘open sewers’ on the old river bed. The city’s regeneration is amazing in less than 40 years and Stephen was spot on with his assessment on how much Edinburgh could learn from Valencia.

Our wasted years of ‘democratic discussion and planning’ has led to inaction and conflicting views from the council and Scottish Government. Piecemeal responses to fringe groups on cycling, for example, are no basis for a logical strategy and as a cyclist, pedestrian and car user I defy anyone to confirm it is linked up to the benefit of all.

Frequent visits to Valencia and friendships forged four decades ago, make me an admirer of my friend Joan Ribo (who loves Edinburgh and Scotland) and was until the last elections, the twice-serving Mayor of Valencia. Joan brought together a coalition of left of centre politicians who have orchestrated so many positive changes affecting the lives of Valenccians.

The city has magnificent buildings, parks, metro, cycle paths and a waterfront development of very high quality. For strategic reason, we should have an elected mayor for the Lothians.

In addition, we should have a detailed comparative study between our Fringe/Festival and Valencia’s festival of Las Fallas – a celebration that engages with all the diverse communities of the city.

Keith Smith, Edinburgh

Harvie’s dilemma

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Patrick Harvie’s statement that he will resign if the Green Party members vote to end the Bute House agreement is intriguing. This offer may be viewed in several ways. Is it calculated as a threat to intimidate members into maintaining the agreement? Is it an opportunity for members to return to the party’s true roots and raison d'etre, discarding leaders obsessed by unrelated pet projects which have nothing whatsoever to do with protecting the environment? Is it a deliberately ambiguous carrot or stick gesture to the SNP and its members to make them “think again”?

Time will tell, but enjoyment of days in the sun and snouts in troughs comes to mind.

Fraser MacGregor, Edinburgh

In vino veritas

The latest figures would suggest that the horrendous tax increases on alcoholic drinks imposed by the SNP has made not a jot of difference to the growing trend of death (Scotsman, 23 April). In fact, it would suggest a hefty increase. If the extra piled on duty was simply to raise more revenue, we must ask why the SNP did not have the courage to say so. Instead it was brought on with the usual fanfare of being all health-related and meant to curb Scotland’s fatal addiction to booze and problem drinkers.

Many warned that problem drinkers will always find the wherewithal needed to fund their addiction. Those who have dealt with the problem in their own families are well aware of that. Instead the moderate drinker will be hit hard and alcohol-linked deaths will continue to soar.

The SNP have another one on their hands that has not been thought through, and as always it is those needing help most that will suffer.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Why so gloomy?

Ken Currie is being very partisan when he claims that these is no good news on Scotland’s economy (Letters, 24 April). In just the last couple of days, approval has been given for the largest offshore floating wind farm in Europe located off Peterhead and business confidence in Scotland has sharply increased to its highest level for more than two years and is above the UK average, according to a recent survey by The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

The ICAEW believes one of the reasons behind the spike in business confidence in Scotland is likely attributed to the growth of exports, which are up 4.4 per cent and are ahead of all other countries in the UK.

Employment growth in Scotland is also up as it increased by 2.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2024, which is more than double the historical average, while salaries increased by 3.1 per cent.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh

Blown away

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Well done to Celia Hobbs (Letters, 24 April) for pointing out that 49 per cent of council decisions on wind farms, based on expert advice, have been overturned at appeal since 2007. What she omitted to say is that these figures are only for applications for single turbines and small wind farms of 50MW or less, dealt with lby Local authorities and appealed to the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division.

The figures for Section 36 consents, i.e. for large wind farms over 50MW determined by Scottish Ministers, are even more alarming as consent was granted, overall, in 74 per cent of applications since 2017. 60 per cent were consented even when the local authority objected and a Public Local Inquiry was held. Large wind farms were not so common in the early days.

In both cases it proves that decisions made by local authorities, who know their areas best and the wishes of local communities are repeatedly overridden by Scottish Ministers or Reporters acting on their behalf.

Aileen Jackson, Scotland Against Spin, Knockglass, East Renfrewshire

Talk up Scotland

If Scots don't talk Scotland up no one else will. Why concentrate on what is going wrong? We live in a lovely country with enough natural resources to be a rich little country and it is time to show the world that we can be it. Why, when we are managing as we are? Because we could do so much better if we were self-governing.

Do you want to live under a government that is sending arms to Israel to assist them in their massacre in Gaza? Men women and children are dying under their onslaught. Would a Scottish government do the same? I doubt it.

Do you think that Westminster has our interests at heart? It clearly does not. Its only interest lies in keeping the taxes that pour into the English treasury from Scotland. I would rather our taxes were used in our country to support Scottish Industry.

When Uniqlo are setting up in Edinburgh’s Princes Street it shows that other countries believe that Scotland is rich enough to go it alone. If they do, we should also believe in an independent country and demand it.

Elizabeth Scott, Edinburgh

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