Home Office hit by online protest

The Home Office has acknowledged it had been the target of an online protest after its website was taken down in an apparent backlash against Government extradition and surveillance policies.

A group of computer hackers claimed responsibility for what appeared to be a denial of service attack Saturday night, which left users unable to fully access the department's homepage for several hours.

A message on the site said the page was unavailable "due to a high volume of traffic".

One message on Twitter claiming to be from Anonymous, a loosely organised group of hackers, said the action was "for your draconian surveillance proposals", while another said it was in protest at the UK's controversial extradition treaty with America.

It read: "You should not give UK citizens to foreign countries without evidence. If an offence happened in the UK, so should the trial."

Another tweet claiming to be from members said the action had been taken in "protest of the potential extradition of Gary McKinnon, Christopher Harold Tappin & Richard O'Dwyer."

A Home Office spokeswoman said on Sunday: "The Home Office website was the subject of on online protest last night. This is a public facing website and no sensitive information is held on it. There is no indication that the site was hacked and other Home Office systems were not affected.

"Measures put in place to protect the website meant that members of the public were unable to access the site intermittently. We will continue to monitor the situation and take measures accordingly."

There were also claims on Twitter that Anonymous had disrupted the websites of the Ministry of Justice and Number 10.

All three Government websites were fully operational on Sunday however.