Former child protection boss Sharon Shoesmith has reached a settlement over her unfair dismissal following the Baby P tragedy in the UK, it was confirmed today.
A settlement which could reach up to £600,000 has been agreed, though Ms Shoesmith may receive a lower sum, according to BBC2’s 'Newsnight'.
Some of the cash will come from central UK government coffers but Haringey council, in north London, will foot most of the bill, it reported.
A Haringey Council spokeswoman said today: “Following the decision of the Court of Appeal in favour of Ms Shoesmith, and the court’s direction that the parties seek to resolve the issue of compensation, the London Borough of Haringey and Ms Shoesmith have reached a settlement in this case.
“The terms of the settlement are confidential. We are unable to comment further on this matter.”
Shadow chancellor Ed Balls, while education secretary, removed Ms Shoesmith from her £133,000-a-year post as Haringey Council’s director of children’s services after a damning report on the death of Peter Connolly.
She was then fired by the council without compensation in December 2008, after a report from regulator Ofsted exposed how her department failed to protect 17-month-old Peter – then known publicly as Baby P. She has reportedly not worked since.
But her lawyers argued that she was the victim of ”a flagrant breach of natural justice” fuelled by a media witch-hunt.
In May 2011, the Appeal Court concluded she was unfairly sacked because Mr Balls and Haringey did not give her a proper chance to put her case before her removal.
The British Department for Education and Haringey sought permission to attempt to overturn the ruling in the Supreme Court, but judges rejected the applications, clearing the way for her to receive compensation, which some experts predicted could be in the region of £1m.
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 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.
Mr Balls said at the time of the Appeal Court ruling that he was “surprised and concerned” by the decision, which he warned would make it “difficult for ministers to act swiftly” when children are at risk.
The Ofsted report into Peter’s death catalogued ”catastrophic management failures” on such a devastating scale that Haringey’s council leader and lead member for children’s services resigned their posts, he added.
“I judged on the basis of that independent report – and on the advice of departmental officials and lawyers – that the right and responsible course of action was for me to use my statutory powers to remove the director of children’s services from her position with immediate effect.”
Tory former children’s minister Tim Loughton told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We published the full serious case review – both of them – into this whole case so we could get some transparency into all of this, so we can put things out into the open.
“And yet, several years on from this tragic death in 2007, we are effectively rewarding failure.
“When you are appointed a director of children’s services – this is the whole point of the reforms after Victoria Climbie, which again happened in Haringey - is that the buck has to stop somewhere and someone has to take responsibility.
“You don’t expect that person accepting responsibility, reluctantly in this case, to get a very large cheque on the back of it as well.”