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Libra problem cuts short Old Bailey trial



Shortcoming in HM Court Service’s IT system leads to prosecutors dropping case

A case against court staff accused of deleting files to prevent convictions has collapsed due to problems with the Courts Service IT system.

Prosecutors were forced to offer no evidence against five defendants accused of perverting the course of justice, news service CourtNewsUK revealed on Twitter on Tuesday.

Reporters from the service were covering a trial at London’s Old Bailey when the court was told the IT system at the heart of the trial “couldn't differentiate between an entry that was refused and one that was deleted”.

It referred to the troubled £447 million Libra system used as HM Court Service’s main IT platform.

It has previously been labelled “one of the worst IT projects I have ever seen” by a member of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, and the project was the focus of fierce criticism by the National Audit Office after costs soared from £146 million to more than £447 million.

Nonetheless, HM Courts Service declared the project a success following its late delivery in 2008.


In a statement to UKAuthority, the service confirmed the report. “We are aware of the outcome of this case,” it said.

“Processes are already in place to ensure accurate records are maintained and we also conduct regular spot checks.

“We are continuing to investigate ways in which we can improve this further.”

The Courts Service added that it uses a combined paper and digital record system to ensure entries can be verified, but this process failed in this instance due to incomplete paper records.

Image: Old Bailey entrance by Tbmurray, CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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