Shoesmith case ‘offers chance to clarify law’, legal expert says

Sharon Shoesmith’s bid to challenge the actions of Ed Balls, Haringey Council and Ofsted concerning her dismissal offers the opportunity to clarify key issues in public law, according to Community Care’s legal expert.

Ed Mitchell (left), a solicitor and editor of Social Care Law Today, said that if Shoesmith obtains permission from the High Court to proceed with her judicial review claim, and it goes to a full hearing, the ruling would be awaited with interest.


“The boundaries of the tripartite relationship between local authorities, regulators and central government are hazily defined in law,” said Mitchell. “This case will provide an opportunity for the High Court to provide some clarity.”

Shoesmith is claiming Balls acted unlawfully when he removed her from her post following Ofsted’s damning joint area review of safeguarding in Haringey, including because he was influenced by severe media pressure.


She is also claiming Ofsted acted unlawfully by not giving her a right of reply to the safeguarding review and that Haringey breached its procedures by subsequently sacking Shoesmith without a “meaningful appeal”.

She is also taking the council to an employment tribunal for unfair dismissal.

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