Your commercial news round-up: cyberattacks, Gaza aid, BT Tower, Manchester United, Boeing

updated on 22 February 2024

Reading time: four minutes

From cyberattacks on UK law firms to news on the BT Tower being made into a hotel, this week’s round-up offers a lot to think about. Read on for summaries of five news stories that we think should be on your radar as aspiring lawyers.

  • Cyberattacks on UK law firms are on the rise. New research shows that reports of cyber breaches jumped to 226 in the year to 30 September – up from 166 reports in the previous 12 months. Towards the end of last year, magic circle firm Allen & Overy LLP was subject to a cyberattack by ransomware group LockBit, according to Legal Cheek. The firm hasn’t revealed whether it paid a ransom to stop the group from leaking the information it had stolen. Law firms have been described as “very attractive targets to hackers” given the “sensitive data” that they hold on behalf of clients. The National Cyber Security Centre cyber threat report 2023 found that nearly three-quarters of the UK’s top 100 law firms have experienced cyberattacks. Although law firms are implementing cyber defences and data protection, it’s still “common for a law firm to suffer a data breach through a phishing attack”, explained Ben Marsh, deputy class underwriter at insurance agency Chaucer.
  • Following a deal with Jordan, the UK air-dropped four tonnes of aid into Gaza on Wednesday – the first time it has done so since the war broke out. Supplies included medicines, food and fuel. Until this week, the UK’s aid to Gaza was delivered by land and sea; however, after five months of war, northern Gaza is now unreachable. There are around 300,000 Palestinians still in northern Gaza with very little food and water. According to the UK Foreign Office, the agreement with Jordan was for £1 million worth of UK aid to be sent to Gaza. David Cameron, UK Foreign Secretary, called for “an immediate humanitarian pause to allow additional aid into Gaza as quickly as possible and [to] bring hostages home”.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday evening the House of Commons descended into chaos during a vote for a ceasefire in Gaza. Conservative and Scottish National Party (SNP) MPs walked out of the chamber in protest over the House of Commons’ speaker's handling of the debate. The outcry occurred after Sir Lindsay Hoyle allowed a vote on a Labour amendment to a SNP parliamentary motion calling for a ceasefire. Although the UK has now officially called for a ceasefire, Hoyle has come under fire for his handling of the proceedings, with both the SNP and Conservative Party expressing no confidence in the speaker.

  • Earlier this week, BT Group announced that it’s agreed to sell the famous BT Tower to MCR Hotels for £275 million. The 177-metre-tall building, which was once the tallest structure in London, “has long been an important site for BT Group’s Media & Broadcast business”. However, as part of the group’s long-term strategy, it’s already begun “migrating services onto its cloud-based platform, which will allow a more straightforward move to more modern and efficient premises”. MCR is due to work with Camden-based Heatherwick studio to work out “how best to reimagine [the tower’s] use as a hotel” but notes that it’ll take a number of years for the project to be completed.
  • Speaking of deals, Sir Jim Ratcliffe has purchased a 27.7% stake in Manchester United via his INEOS business, which will enable him to take control of the club’s football operations from the Glazer family. The deal is worth £1.31 billion, including an initial investment of £158 million planned for the Old Trafford infrastructure and a further £79 million by the end of 2024. Under the US Glazer ownership, the club has lost more than £1 billion and modernising the current ground, Old Trafford, has become a priority.

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