Baby P chief challenges sacking

The former children’s services chief who lost her job over the Baby P tragedy will today launch a judicial challenge against her sacking.

The former children’s services chief who lost her job over the Baby P tragedy will today launch a judicial challenge against her sacking.

Sharon Shoesmith, 56, was dismissed without compensation by Haringey Council in north London in December after a damning report into her department’s failings.

She will bring judicial review proceedings against the council, UK Children’s Secretary Ed Balls and regulator Ofsted at the High Court today.

Mr Balls sent Ofsted inspectors into Haringey last November after the trial of those responsible for the death of Baby P, who can now be named as Peter Connelly.

The review team identified a string of “serious concerns” about the local authority’s child protection services, which they condemned as “inadequate”.

Mr Balls removed Ms Shoesmith from her senior post on December 1 and Haringey formally dismissed her a week later.

She attempted to overturn the decision to sack her but a panel of councillors rejected her appeal.

In March Ms Shoesmith lodged an employment tribunal claim for unfair dismissal against Haringey Council and launched her judicial review application.

Her solicitor, Tony Child, from law firm Beachcroft, alleged that Ofsted’s report on Haringey children’s services was “unlawful” and “in total disregard of the rules of natural justice”.

He also argued that Mr Balls was influenced by media pressure and went beyond his powers when he suspended Ms Shoesmith, and that Haringey Council acted “in breach of its own procedures” and failed to give her a “meaningful appeal”.

Peter was just 17 months old when he died in August 2007 at the hands of his mother, Tracey Connelly, her lover, Steven Barker and their lodger, Jason Owen.

He had suffered 50 injuries despite receiving 60 visits from social workers, doctors and police over the final eight months of his life.

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

Ms Shoesmith’s case at the High Court is expected to last at least three days.

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