Hackers attacked the Home Office website last night in protest at its handling of extradition cases and new plans for internet usage surveillance, leaving the service unavailable to internet users.
The hacking group Anonymous was linked to attempts to close the website by deluging it with traffic. The site became unusable as messages on Twitter asked computer users to "fire" at it.
It was claimed the attack was partly in protest at the Home Secretary Theresa May's approval of the extradition of Richard O'Dwyer to face trial in the US, for allegedly running a website link to pirated films, and the treatment of Gary McKinnon, accused of hacking into US military computers. A Home Office spokesman said: "We are aware of reports that the Home Office website may be the subject of online protest."