Sunday 11 December 2016

Shoesmith challenge rejected following Baby P ruling - courts

Sam Marsden

Published 02/08/2011 | 12:39

The British Supreme Court has rejected applications by the Department for Education and Haringey Council for leave to challenge a landmark ruling that Sharon Shoesmith was unfairly sacked following the Baby P tragedy.

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The Court of Appeal concluded in May that Ms Shoesmith was unfairly sacked, and a leading employment lawyer said she could be in line to receive as much as £1m (€1.15m) if the decision was upheld.

The Department for Education and Haringey Council in north London sought permission to attempt to overturn the ruling in the Supreme Court.

But a spokesman for the Supreme Court said today that their applications for leave to appeal had been refused.

Ms Shoesmith's career was left in ruins after she was removed from her post as Haringey's children's services director by then-education secretary Ed Balls and then fired by the council without compensation in December 2008.

The axe fell after regulator Ofsted published a damning report in the wake of the death of 17-month-old Baby P - now named as Peter Connelly - exposing failings in her department.

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

The Court of Appeal judges found that Mr Balls and Haringey acted too hastily and in a way which was "procedurally unfair" because Ms Shoesmith was not given a proper chance to put her case.

Peter died in Tottenham, north London, on August 3 2007 at the hands of his mother, Tracey Connelly, her lover, Steven Barker, and their lodger, Barker's brother Jason Owen.

He had suffered more than 50 injuries despite being on the at-risk register and receiving 60 visits from social workers, police and health professionals over the final eight months of his life.

A series of reviews identified missed opportunities when officials could have saved his life if they had acted properly on the warning signs in front of them.

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