FIRST Minister Humza Yousaf has hit back at Douglas Ross over the Horizon scandal pointing out that it was “born in Westminster”.

The Scottish Tory leader pushed Yousaf on the Scottish Government’s approach to a blanket pardon for subpostmasters impacted by the faulty system that led to several convictions at FMQs on Thursday.

It comes after Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain told MSPs that there is already an appeal process in place for those in Scotland who have suffered a miscarriage of justice over the scandal.

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In a statement, Bain apologised to those impacted, understood to be around 100 people in Scotland.

Ross probed the FM on whether the Scottish Government would support a blanket pardon, following Bain’s statement, suggesting that she did not support an overturning of all convictions.

The FM repeatedly pointed out that he had showed support for introducing a Legislative Consent Motion (LCM) to allow any legislation introduced in Westminster to apply in Scotland, in relation to a pardon.

Yousaf told MSPs that the Scottish Government could bring forward its own legislation to tackle the issue if this was not appropriate. 

He blasted that it should not have taken an ITV drama for UK Government ministers to listen to impacted subpostmasters, who repeatedly told ministers the Post Office had lied to them.

"Lets not forget what we're dealing with here, this I'm afraid is a scandal that was born in Westminster,” the FM told the chamber.

"This is a Post Office that is wholly reserved, wholly responsible to the UK Government ministers. 

"I accept [the Post Office] lied to UK Government ministers but the UK Government ministers clearly did not interrogate the Post Office strongly enough.

"Therefore the public inquiry is important, and I urge the UK Government to fully co-operate.”

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Ross insisted that as the Crown Office in Scotland - which is devolved - pursued convictions, there were still questions to be answered.

Yousaf also told MSPs that he had a "positive response" from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak regarding both governments working together to find a solution to the numerous miscarriages of justice. 

"We support the UK Government looking at legislation for a mass exoneration for those who were wrongly convicted," the FM told the chamber. 

He added that if “for whatever reason” an LCM is not possible, “we are already working on contingencies around separate Scottish legislation if that is required”.

But Yousaf said he hopes that will not be necessary.

Speaking to journalists after FMQs, Yousaf was asked if the Horizon scandal was "born in Westminster but delivered in Scotland".

The National: Anas Sarwar challenged the First Minister on transparency during FMQs

He replied: "No of course it was the Post Office that is wholly reserved to the UK Government that has misled, in fairness I'm sure UK Government ministers, but also clearly misled, from what the Lord Advocate was saying, the Crown Office too."

Elsewhere, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar (above) probed the FM on XL bully dogs ahead of a ministerial statement due to be heard in the chamber on Thursday afternoon.

Yousaf insisted that the Scottish Government was not seeking a “full ban” on the breed after one was introduced in England by Westminster.

Sarwar told MSPs that 7600 people in Scotland had been treated for injuries sustained from dogs in one year as he called for a review of legislation aimed at tackling dangerous dogs. 

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He said the Scottish Government was warned in 2019 that the Control of Dogs Act, introduced in 2010, was “not fit for purpose”.

The Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee said the legislation had a "limited effect" in preventing or reducing the number of dog attacks in Scotland. 

In response, ministers introduced a dog control notice scheme which allowed local authorities to demand owners of dangerous dogs take actions such as muzzling or receive punishments including fines up to £1000 or bans on owning dogs.

The National:

Sarwar said in light of incoming measures against XL bullies, the current legislation should be reviewed to introduce tougher punishment for dog owners. 

“These dogs were out of control, often mistreated or poorly trained by their owners," Sarwar said. 

“Many of the injuries people sustained disfigured them for life.

“The Government promised five years ago to take action against irresponsible owners and breeders, not just an individual breed.

“So if the Government can act on XL bullies, what will it take for them to protect people that they have repeatedly promised?”

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The FM replied: “We did take action on the back of the work done in 2019. That’s why we have a really important regime of dog control notices.

“That is the regime that does not exist in England and Wales.”

Yousaf added that there are currently 1200 active dog control notices in Scotland, 2% of those relating to XL bullies.