Ofsted ‘only now’ discovers vital Shoesmith evidence

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Ofsted has “discovered” vital evidence relating to the judicial review hearing for Sharon Shoesmith, the sacked former director of children’s services at Haringey.

The hearing, which closed almost a month ago pending judgement, was dramatically re-opened today after Ofsted admitted it had belatedly found notes and e-mails from inspectors involved in the post-Baby P emergency review of Haringey’s services.

They have also submitted drafts of the emergency joint area review (JAR), demanded by Shoesmith’s lawyers after a whistleblower came forward claiming it had been changed from “satisfactory” to “inadequate”.

Shoesmith’s lawyers had originally been told the draft reports were “not relevant”, and then that Ofsted no longer possessed them, before the watchdog finally produced them this week.

Shoesmith was sacked after the emergency JAR report, commissioned by children’s secretary Ed Balls, claimed there were critical failings within her department.

Other evidence, including 70 pages of hand-written notes by one of the inspectors, were discovered by a new lawyer for Ofsted dealing with an freedom of information request. It had taken weeks to transcribe the notes, Ofsted claimed.

The inspectorate now has to submit everything to Shoesmith’s legal team by 10am this morning (11 November) and have 14 days to ensure it has produced everything it possesses relating to the case.

It must also produce a statement explaining why the buried items were discovered so late as well as a full explanation of how the request for the draft JAR report was dealt with. Ofsted has to pay for all the extra legal expenses incurred by Shoesmith as a result of the delay.

Mr Justice Foskett pointed out that Shoesmith’s team would need time to respond to the new evidence.

“I had hoped to make judgement on Friday this week but this now seems impossible,” he said. Judgement is now unlikely to be made until December.

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