Monday 24 July 2017

Council boss in line for £1m payout after Baby P sacking case

Dean Gray in London

Sharon Shoesmith could be in line for a massive compensation payout following yesterday's Court of Appeal ruling that she was unfairly sacked following the Baby P tragedy.

A leading employment lawyer said the former director of children's services at Haringey Council in north London could receive as much as £1m (€1.15m), if the court's decision is not overturned.

Ms Shoesmith's career was left in ruins after she was removed from her post in December 2008 by then education secretary and then sacked by Haringey, which said it had lost trust in her.

The axe fell after regulator Ofsted published a damning report in the wake of 17-month-old Peter Connelly's death, exposing failings in her department.

Lawyers argued that Ms Shoesmith (58) had been the victim of "a flagrant breach of natural justice" and she had been driven from her £133,000-a-year post by a media witch hunt and political pressure.

Sacking

They asked the court to rule that her sacking without compensation was so legally flawed as to be null and void, and that she still remained entitled to her full salary and pension up to the present day.

The court ruled that education secretary Ed Balls and Haringey had acted too hastily and in a way that was "procedurally unfair" because Ms Shoesmith had not been given a chance to put her case.

Lord Justice Kay declared: "Accountability is not synonymous with heads must roll."

Ofsted was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Ms Shoesmith has accepted she cannot return to her Haringey post and her case has been referred back to the High Court for outstanding issues, including compensation.

Mr Balls said the decision would be "greeted with surprise across the country" and insisted he would "make the same decisions again".

Baby Peter died in August 2007 at the hands of his mother, Tracey Connelly, her lover Steven Barker and their lodger.

Ms Shoesmith said she was "over the moon" at the ruling, but her sorrow over the death of Baby P "will stay with me for the rest of my life".

Irish Independent

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