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By | Kelly Fiveash 16th February 2009 08:02

Libra freezes out Welsh legalese pumps another £4m into computer system

The UK government is throwing an extra £4m at the upgrade of its new courts IT system because it currently can’t translate documents into Welsh.

Magistrates courts in Wales and England waited nearly a decade to see their outdated records system overhauled. The Libra computer system was finally installed in December last year at the cost of £447m – £260m over budget.

The system was brought in to centralise records at magistrates’ courts and send out summonses. But according to Wales Online the project failed to provide a built-in translator for documents written in the Welsh language.

It reported on Friday that since Libra arrived the Ministry of Justice has been forced to translate summonses manually on request, and officials there will continue to do so until the problem is fixed in September.

LibDem MP for Cardiff Central Jenny Willott lambasted Whitehall. “It beggars belief that the government simply forgot to include the Welsh language in the contract,” she told Wales Online. “

Fixing this problem is going to add further to the taxpayers’ bill for this shambolic IT project and will leave Welsh speakers having to ask for special translations until September.”

Welsh courts are required by law to send out summonses written in its mother’s tongue. Despite that, the ministry is yet to sign the contracts approving the upgrade work, which is estimated to come in at about £4m.

The HM Courts Service was not immediately available for comment at time of writing. ®

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