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Forensic labs attacked by hackers holds evidence in 30 Scots cases; Cyber gang's audacious crime may have put trials in jeopardy.

Byline: Craig McDonald cmcdonald@sundaypost.com

Potentially crucial evidence in dozens of Scottish cases is held at an English firm hit by hackers, we can reveal.

Leading lawyers said the impact on the cases could be "potentially catastrophic" as a major investigation was launched after Eurofins Scientifics, running Britain's biggest private forensic labs, was targeted in the so-called ransomware incident.

It's understood material relating to 30 Scottish cases was being assessed by Eurofins at labs in England.

The work was outsourced by the Scottish Police Authority, who manage forensic science services on behalf of Police Scotland.

The SPA said they hoped to retrieve material relating to some of the cases to process it at their own labs in Scotland.

However, some cases could face delays while the impact of the attack is fully assessed.

Police forces across the UK have taken emergency action and sus-pended sending forensics 'work to the company while an investigation is conducted.

The possible impact of this on cases is catastrophic -Donald Findlay QC The SPA said foren-sic work was outsourced to Eurofins amid a heavy workload and increasingly complex cases.

They are now assessing the impact the attack may have had on possible evidence.

Ransomware is malicious software that prevents users from accessing their system or personal files and sometimes involves threats to publish or destroy data. The criminals demand ransom to restore access.

Judges and prosecutors have been alerted to the attack amid fears that evidence could have been manipulated in the incident.

Eurofins Scientific has laboratories around the world with UK testing centres in Middlesex, Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire, Derbyshire and Yorkshire.

The company said in a statement that it was targeted by the ransomware attack over the weekend of June 1 and 2. The attack affected the IT systems of the company's forensics subsidiary, which is based in the UK and is one of the main forensic service providers to UK policing.

Police chiefs put an emergency plan of action in place on June 3 when they suspended submissions to the company.

It is understood that less serious and historical cases may face delays.

Eurofins processes 70,000 cases a year for police and law enforcement.

Mr Findlay said yesterday: "I would regard this as a very serious matter. If there is any question that forensic material may have been interfered with in any way then that would be very alarming indeed.

"That this could hap-pen is bad enough but DNA evidence helped convict Tracy Wylde's killer Zhi Min Chen, inset above, two decades after crime Eurofins is a lab used for police tests

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Publication:The Sunday Post (Aberdeen,Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 23, 2019
Words:430
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