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Baby P legal battle 'cost £500,000'

Sharon Shoesmith's legal battle to overturn her dismissal after the Baby P tragedy has cost the taxpayer nearly £500,000.

Ms Shoesmith was sacked from her job as director of children's services at Haringey Council in December 2008, and claimed she was made a scapegoat after the death of 17-month-old Peter Connelly.

She brought a High Court challenge against Haringey Council, regulator Ofsted and former children's secretary Ed Balls, the first round of which she lost in April but was granted leave to appeal in September.

In a parliamentary written reply to Tory Charlotte Leslie (Bristol NW), Children's minister Tim Loughton said Ofsted had so far incurred costs of £331,059, including payments to the Treasury Solicitor, counsel's fees and VAT.

The Department for Education has so far incurred costs of £92,753 for representation by the Treasury Solicitor and a further £57,425 in respect of counsel. Overall, this came to a total of £481,237.

Mr Loughton said there may be further costs to the public purse, including "in-house staffing costs" at Ofsted and "in-house lawyers and policy officials" at the department.

He added: "In a ruling published on September 1 2010, the judge indicated that he proposed to order Ms Shoesmith to pay £25,000 (including VAT) towards the Secretary of State's costs.

"He also indicated that he would grant Ms Shoesmith permission to appeal his judgment. The position on costs may change depending on the outcome of any appeal."

Peter died in August 2007 at the hands of his mother Tracey Connelly, her lover Steven Barker and their lodger, Barker's brother Jason Owen.

In September, lawyers for Mr Balls asked for £138,000 in costs to be paid by Ms Shoesmith but Mr Justice Foskett said she should pay only £25,000.


From Belfast Telegraph