Shoesmith appeal: Haringey Council hearing ‘a farce’

Sharon Shoesmith, the former director of Haringey’s children’s services sacked over the Baby Peter case, has claimed the council hearing into her dismissal was a “farce”.

Shoesmith’s lawyer, James Maurici, told the High Court in London today that Haringey relied solely on directions from children’s secretary Ed Balls, and a hastily prepared Ofsted joint area review report to remove Shoesmith last December without compensation.

Although Shoesmith submitted 70 pages of arguments pointing out flaws in the Ofsted report process, the council said it could not be questioned, nor could the hearing examine the Ofsted inspection, Maurici claimed.

“The whole hearing was a charade. The council didn’t collect any evidence or make any enquiries themselves,” Maurici said on the second day of the High Court judicial review into Shoesmith’s dismissal.

Maurici is arguing that Haringey’s decision was unlawful because Balls’ directions to it were a “flagrant breach of natural justice” and the Ofsted report was not properly prepared.

At no stage was Shoesmith granted the chance to put her case, he argued, and Shoesmith claimed she was singled out from a report that was critical of a number of different agencies and people.

Maurici said Ofsted did not interview any case lead social workers on the ground as part of the report but relied on paperwork.

Shoesmith claims Balls was unduly influenced by the “media witch-hunt” following the Baby Peter court case, particularly The Sun’s petition and campaign for her to be sacked.

In documents submitted to the court, Balls claimed there was a misunderstanding between Ofsted and his department in not allowing Shoesmith to give feedback as part of the Ofsted report. He also claimed there was nothing she could have said that would have changed his decision to remove her from her position. She was sacked by Haringey a week later.

Ofsted is due to begin its defence this afternoon. It is expected to reveal its report of the state of Haringey’s children’s services, particularly in the wake of Baby Peter’s death.

Yesterday it emerged that Shoesmith initially received supportive emails from senior children’s professionals after the notorious press conference on Baby Peter’s death.

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