Lucy Frazer – 2019 Statement on the IT Systems in Courts

Below is the text of the statement made by Lucy Frazer, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, in the House of Commons on 23 January 2019.

I am grateful for the opportunity to update the House on the IT issues facing the Ministry of Justice over recent days.

I start by apologising to those who have been affected by the intermittent disruption, which was caused by an infrastructure failure in our supplier’s data centre. Although services have continued to operate and court hearings have continued, we know how frustrating this is for everyone. The issue is that some of our staff in the Courts and Tribunals Service, the Legal Aid Agency, probation and Ministry of Justice headquarters have been unable to log on to their computers, but we have contingency plans in place to make sure that trials can go ahead as planned.

The Prison Service has not been affected and—to correct inaccurate reporting—criminals have not gone free as a result of the problem. We have been working closely with our suppliers, Atos and Microsoft, to get our systems working again, and yesterday we had restored services to 180 court sites, including the largest ones. Today, 90% of staff have working computer systems. Work continues to restore services and we expect the remainder of the court sites to be fully operational by the time they open tomorrow morning. We are very disappointed that our suppliers have not yet been able to resolve the network problems in full.

This afternoon, the permanent secretary, Sir Richard Heaton, will meet the chief executive of Atos and write personally to all members of the judiciary. I am very grateful to all our staff who have been working tirelessly and around the clock, alongside our suppliers, to resolve the issues.