MoJ back online but will ‘take time to return to normal’

Department working with suppliers to try and ‘ensure ongoing stability’

Credit: Kirsty O’Connor/PA

After more than a week of disruption, the Ministry of Justice announced on Friday that it had restored connectivity to all systems and networks.

But the department warned that “it will take time for all aspects of the service to fully return to normal, as there is a backlog of work created by the disruption”.

The MoJ said it will work with affected teams to try and help clear this backlog as soon as possible. The department added that it is working with its two main IT suppliers, Atos and Microsoft, to try and “ensure ongoing stability across the network”.

The two companies are also continuing to work with officials to try and ascertain what was behind the problems of the past two weeks. Although a cause is yet to be identified, the department reiterated that it has not suffered a cyberattack, nor has it lost any data. The connectivity issues are also unrelated to the ongoing £1bn courts digitisation programme, it added.

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The MoJ said: “Permanent secretary Sir Richard Heaton met with the chief executive of Atos UK & Ireland to express his disappointment and to agree how we learn from what went wrong and make changes.”

The department said that the disruption “affected devices connecting to the main MoJ network… [which] is also used by HMCTS and other MoJ agencies, and a number of arm’s-length bodies”.

As of an update issued on Tuesday last week – after several days of work to mitigate the problems – one in four courts staff were still shut out of key IT systems, disrupting cases across the country.

“Hearings continued to progress in our courts – though we appreciate the extra burden placed on court users without network access,” the MoJ said. “The issues did not lead to detaining defendants or freeing criminals unlawfully.”

It added: “We apologise to those who have been affected. We know how deeply frustrating this has been for our staff and people who use and work across the justice system.”

Sam Trendall

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