Belfast Telegraph

£600k payout for fired care boss Sharon Shoesmith following the Baby P tragedy is 'shocking'

By David Hughes

A payout to former child protection boss Sharon Shoesmith, over her unfair dismissal following the Baby P tragedy has been condemned by Government ministers.

The settlement, reported to be worth up to £600,000, was described as "pretty shocking" by Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb.

Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles accused Haringey Council, which reached the confidential agreement with its former director of children's services, of "bankrolling a state-sponsored cover-up".

Labour's Ed Balls, who as children's secretary removed Ms Shoesmith from her role after a damning report on the death of Peter Connelly, said the payout would "appal people".

Ms Shoesmith, who is originally from Newtownabbey in Co Antrim, was fired from her £133,000-a-year job by Haringey Council without compensation in December 2008, after a report from regulator Ofsted exposed that her department failed to protect 17-month-old Peter – then known publicly as Baby P.

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 Department of Education and Haringey sought permission to attempt to overturn the ruling in the Supreme Court, but judges rejected the bid, clearing the way for her to receive compensation.

A Haringey Council spokeswoman confirmed that a settlement had been reached but the terms of the agreement were confidential.

Mr Pickles accused the Labour-led council of mishandling the situation and attacked the use of a confidentiality clause.

He said: "There should be no rewards for failure in the public sector or the private sector.

"I fail to see how Haringey Council's secretive actions are in the public interest. Bankrolling a state-sponsored cover-up is a massive error of judgment by Haringey Council, and compounds their mishandling of the whole affair," he said.

Sacked chief Sharon Shoesmith hopes to work with children in future 

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