BT to sue Essex council over 'unlawful' contract termination

BT has said it will sue Essex County Council, after alleging the authority unlawfully ended their outsourcing deal.

The contract, reportedly worth tens of millions of pounds annually, covered all of Essex County Council's IT support, including networks. It had been running for four years, but Essex was reportedly unhappy with the service it was receiving.

A spokesperson at BT said the company was "disappointed" that its contract had been terminated, with three and a half years left to run.

"We are disappointed Essex County Council has unlawfully terminated our contract," the spokesperson said. "Having discussed the position with our lawyers, we can confirm we will be seeking substantial damages."

But Essex County Council said it was dissatisfied with the service being provided by BT, and defended its decision to terminate the work.

"Essex County Council is determined to deliver better services at a better price for Essex taxpayers. We also will act decisively when we judge that any contract is not delivering value for money and will take appropriate action. This is not something we will shy away from nor avoid," said a spokesperson from the council.

Unison, the public sector workers union, said Essex had wasted residents' cash. Dave Prentis, general secretary, said the council was "forced to bring its failing outsourced IT contract back in house, which will no doubt cost local people millions".

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