Sharon Shoesmith disappointed by High Court verdict

Sharon Shoesmith has said she is "disappointed" by the failure of the High Court to uphold her claim for unfair dismissal.

Sharon Shoesmith has said she is “disappointed” by the failure of the High Court to uphold her claim for unfair dismissal.

A statement issued by her solicitors Beachcroft LLP said: “We are disappointed that, despite the serious criticisms made by the judge of Ofsted, the secretary of state and Haringey Council, the judge has not upheld Sharon’s claim for judicial review. We nevertheless welcome the finding that Haringey acted unfairly in dismissing Sharon.”

It added: “We will be giving careful consideration to the judgment, which runs to some 200 pages and considering whether there are grounds for an appeal.  This will take time. Pending that consideration, neither we, nor our client, will make any further statement.”

Children’s secretary Ed Balls said: “Following lengthy scrutiny, the judge, in his considered and extensive judgment, has found that my decision to remove Sharon Shoesmith from the post of director of children’s services in Haringey was, indeed, lawful and that in directing her removal and replacement I acted fairly and properly.

“As the judge says the events giving rise to this case were unusual and perhaps unique. My concern was, at all times, for the safety of children in Haringey and wider confidence in child protection arrangements across the country. My decision was based on the evidence Ofsted presented to me in the joint area review inspection – which the judge has found was carried out correctly.”

Ofsted chief inspector Christine Gilbert said: “I am pleased that the judge’s conclusion is clear: Ofsted’s inspection process has been vindicated.

“Ofsted takes its role in inspecting the protection arrangements for vulnerable children very seriously. I am pleased, therefore, that the judge has found in our favour in this judicial review. We carried out a robust inspection, came to a sound conclusion based on the evidence and acted fairly.

“The inspection team did a professional and rigorous job and we are pleased that they have been vindicated through the intense scrutiny of the court process.

Gilbert added: “The case never challenged Ofsted’s inspection judgement that child protection services in Haringey in November 2008 were inadequate and children who were ‘at risk’ were not being protected securely enough. We believe that the inspection report at the centre of this case, and our two follow up inspections, have made a substantial contribution to improving the protection of vulnerable children in Haringey.

“I hope today’s judgement gives the public reassurance. Ofsted inspectors will continue to report without fear or favour wherever they identify that arrangements for protecting vulnerable children are not good enough.”

A statement from Haringey Council said: “We welcome the Court’s agreement that Shoesmith’s claims are a matter for an Employment Tribunal. We continue to believe that the dismissal was fair and that fair processes were used that allowed Ms Shoesmith a proper hearing by the council.

“These matters will be fully explored by the Employment Tribunal in due course.

“We have nothing more to say in view of the Employment Tribunal due to take place late this year.”

However, Barry Sheerman, chair of the children, schools and families select committee, said: “I am surprised. My expectation was that Sharon Shoesmith had a fair case. I certainly expected Ofsted to come in for some serious criticism. I am very concerned at the way that Ofsted changed its assessment of Haringey Council. The High Court has obviously seen all the evidence and has made its decision but there still remain some very serious questions about Ofsted’s competency. Whatever happens in the election, there should be a full review of Ofsted.”

Related articles

Judge rules Shoesmith sacking was lawful

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.