THE massive IT meltdown which has brought parts of Scotland's largest council to standstill is expected to spark a legal battle over responsibility for the fiasco.

It is understood Glasgow City Council is exploring grounds to sue those charged with the management of the facility which houses its IT hardware, which was crippled by a fire extinguishing system earlier this week.

It comes as the authority continues in its race to have its IT systems fully operational before next week, with the hope it can be up and running again by today.

Council bosses have also issued an assurance that all wages will be paid to staff on time, allaying mounting fears amongst staff that salaries will not be in their accounts until after Christmas.

Meanwhile, councillors have also commenced an investigation into the incident, with issues around cause, response to previous warnings about IT failures on risk registers, back-up facilities and the future of the service to be discussed in a public committee.

Glasgow City Council's internal network went down after IT servers were accidentally sprayed by fire extinguishers early on Tuesday.

An air conditioning unit "catastrophically" malfunctioned releasing gas and then leading to the room where the various servers are stored overheating.

Sources said this led to some hardware "exploding" which then kicked in a "fire suppression" system, spraying a substance used to extinguish flames all over the IT hub.

It damaged a server, taking out the email and other internal networks, with the council's main switchboard number also out of action for a short time.

The hardware is stored in a ground floor unit of the City Park business centre, owned by an asset management firm, just off the M8 in central Glasgow.

It is understood that council lawyers are attempting to see if liability for the fiasco can be established, a senior source adding: "It could become a fairly significant legal process."

The council also said payments to staff due to be paid before Christmas had been issued before the system crash, while teachers' wages are made via a different system.

A spokesman said: "Our business continuity planning is detailed and has proven to be effective. We have no reports of vital services failing to be delivered.

"All payments due to be made by the council will be made on time."

The spokesman added that the technology was now in place for thousands of staff to deliver frontline services, while manual back-ups were still in place.

Engineers from the authority's arms-length IT firm Access remain on standby to work around the clock tomorrow and Sunday to ensure the problems are resolved ahead of the next working week.

With many staff roles dependent on IT systems, insiders have told how there has been rush of employees taking annual leave as their roles were temporarily redundant with those most affected including social work teams reliant on emails for field work.

Meanwhile, it is understood the city council's joint venture with facilities giant Serco to run its IT services may not be renewed.

The contract comes to an end in two years' time, with Serco understood to have been disappointed with the financial returns from the long-standing arrangement in place since 2007.

The contract sees Serco paid £7 million less in each year of its duration, conversely at a time when IT use has mushroomed.