Belfast Telegraph

Shoesmith denies profiting out of Baby P tragedy with new book

By Ann W Schmidt

Sharon Shoesmith has continued to defend herself against criticism as she appeared on television to talk about her book, Learning from Baby P.

The former director of Children's Services at Haringey went on BBC Two's Victoria Derbyshire programme yesterday to talk about her new publication.

Ms Shoesmith was the director when 17-month-old Peter Connelly died in London in 2007.

He died after social workers didn't notice he had received more than 50 injuries over the course of eight months, even though he was registered with social services as being '"at-risk".

Amid accusations that she is profiting off the death of Baby P, Ms Shoesmith spoke with the TV presenter about the recently published book which she wrote based on her PhD.

Early on in the interview, the social worker from Newtownabbey addressed the reports that she had received a large sum of money from a payout after her successful appeal in a lawsuit saying she was unfairly fired.

"There was never £600,000. There was a fraction of that, which I can't reveal because I've signed papers and people would be very ready to tackle me if I did say what it was," she said.

Ms Shoesmith was fired in 2008 after a series of inquiries and a national review of social service care. Children's minister Ed Balls fired her on live television, which Ms Shoesmith later contested in a lawsuit. She claimed her dismissal was decided under unfair circumstances.

During the interview yesterday, Ms Shoesmith remained on the defensive over her role in the State's failure to protect Peter.

"I'm not guilty," she said. "The serious issue here is how we responded to Peter's death."

She added that even though it is the natural reaction to blame someone other than the parents in cases like these, that may not be the answer.

"Simply blaming social workers isn't going to get us anywhere. In fact, it's making the situation worse," she said.

"The social work profession is just under siege all the time. It's become quite fragile."

She also claimed she was treated unfairly because of her position. She said one child dies every week and that should not affect the position.

"Are we going to sack a director of children's services every time a child dies? And where would that take us?" she said. "I don't want to say this lightly."

She claimed her book is not about blaming others involved.

"I don't blame. What you find in the book is a real emphasis on understanding," she said.

"I really set that out at the beginning, that we need to stand back and understand what happened here."

Piers Morgan also accused Ms Shoesmith of profiting off Baby P's death when she appeared on Good Morning Britain in June.

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