Son of subpostmistress may be covered by Horizon legislation, court told

The son of a subpostmistress who admitted stealing £35,000 to save his mother from prison may be covered by new legislation exonerating those wrongly convicted in the Horizon scandal, a court has heard.

In February 2010, Ravinder Naga was ordered to complete 300 hours of community service and pay compensation of £35,000 after he confessed to stealing the money from the Post Office where his mother worked in Greenock, Inverclyde.

In 2022 he requested a review of his conviction and sentence, and the Scottish Cases Review Commission referred it to the High Court of the Justiciary, saying Mr Naga had “pled guilty in circumstances that were, or could be said to be, clearly prejudicial to him”.

Judge Lady Dorrian opened the hearing at the Court of Session in Edinburgh on Friday by asking advocates if they had reached a view on whether Mr Naga was covered by the Post Office (Horizon System) Offences (Scotland) Act, which came into effect the same day.

Lewis Kennedy, representing Mr Naga, said he believes his client is covered by the legislation, while Brian Gill KC, for the Crown, indicated it would be a matter for ministers to determine.

Two people walk by a large Post Office sign on a window
The Post Office (Horizon System) Offences (Scotland) Act exonerating those wrongly convicted is now law (PA)

Judge Lady Dorrian asked him: “It may be covered by the new legislation?”

Mr Gill replied: “It may be.”

Lady Dorrian responded that “at the heart of this case is a simple issue”, saying there is “no doubt” it involved a sum of money that was linked to the Horizon scandal, plus another sum that she said was currently “undetermined”.

She said: “The only issues are whether, had the deficiencies in the Horizon system been known of at the time, would that have made a difference to the statements made or the admissions made by the individual, and would it have made a difference to the conviction.

“It’s impossible for this court to understand why it’s taken so long for this to be determined.”

She ordered a two-day appeal hearing to begin on September 26.

Legislation exonerating subpostmasters in Scotland wrongly convicted as part of the Post Office Horizon came into force on Friday.

A law doing so for subpostmasters in England and Wales was introduced earlier this year.

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