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Data centre failure blamed for IT outage in British courts

A data centre failure is to blame for an IT outage that wreaked havoc on the UK’s justice system this week, MPs were told on Wednesday.

Speaking in Parliament yesterday, justice minister Lucy Frazer pointed the finger for the outage at Microsoft and Atos. The outage left staff at hundreds of courts locked out of the Ministry of Justice’s computers, prompting fears that the system could grind to a halt.

“We are very disappointed that our suppliers have not yet been able to resolve the network problems in full,” Frazer said in a statement.

Some 180 courts had regained access yesterday and those that remained locked out were expected to be reconnected by Thursday morning. Frazer said in her statement that the government would be seeking compensation from the suppliers responsible for the outage.

The data centre failure is not linked to malicious cyber activity and no data has been stolen during the outage, the government confirmed.

The incident came just days after users of the Criminal Justice secure system were left unable to access the service, but the two incidents are unrelated.

“With reports that thousands of cases have already been disrupted, it’s clear there needs to be plan B for when a major breakdown occurs,” said Mimecast’s Pete Banham. “Minimising the impact of service unavailability should be a top priority as a defence-only strategy is doomed to fail.”