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Shoesmith legal challenge is fast-tracked

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Former Haringey LBC director of children’s services Sharon Shoesmith will have the legal challenge to her sacking fast-tracked, according to reports.

The Times said Ms Shoesmith, who was removed from her post by children’s secretary Ed Balls following a damning Ofsted inquiry into the Baby Peter tragedy, would have a three-day hearing on her claims in early October.

Sharon Shoesmith

Ms Shoesmith argues that the secretary of state exceeded his legal powers in making his directions in December last year, and her resulting sacking without pay or compensation was a result of media pressure on Mr Balls.

The Times said the High Court’s decision to fast-track the case was a sign that it involved “an important point of law”.

The paper said Ms Shoesmith could stand to lose £50,000 from her own pocket if the challenge is not successful. The Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers (SOLACE) said it could not comment on individual cases but it was possible for a SOLACE member to buy employment and other insurance cover.

She and three other social services department colleagues also pursuing an unfair dismissal case against Haringey, alleging the authority did not follow proper procedures in terminating their employment.

  • The three at the centre of the tragedy have been named after the court anonymity order expired. His mother is Tracey Connelly, 28, and her partner Steven Barker, 33. The third defendant was Jason Owen, 37, Barker’s brother. Baby Peter’s surname, Connelly, has also been released. BBC report

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  • 2 Comments

Readers' comments (2)

  • So Haringey at inspection time got a good rating and shoesmith could have been excused for thinking my service must be good because the inspectors say it is.

    Then when something goes wrong she gets sacked and another audit all of a sudden changes its point of view.

    Who created the system that had all local authorities facing inspection instead of facing the people they need to serve?

    Then she became the scapegoat when ministers started blaming people instead of the system that the regime had created!

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  • This case will be interesting, especially if it looks into how the three inspections were carried out and the apparent nonsense of thier contradictory findings. Obviously I don't have enough information to know how good or bad Haringey's child protection was, but it was interesting that 3 of the issues criticised in the "hindsight" Ofsted inspection (inter-agency co-operation, leadership and I forget the other) had been the subject of praise in the previous two, while the second one (which awarded 3 stars) praised the council for its progress in implementing the recommendations set out in the first (which awarded 2 stars). Also, it might explain exactly what power Mr. Balls thought he was exercising when he made his apparently knee-jerk, but possibly fully thought out and properly advised, decision.

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