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Gove seeks to have Shoesmith sacking ruling overturned

By Alison Kershaw and Wesley Johnson

Education Secretary Michael Gove has launched a last-ditch bid to overturn a court ruling that Sharon Shoesmith was unfairly sacked after the Baby P tragedy.

The Court of Appeal ruled last month that the Northern Ireland woman was unfairly dismissed, and a top employment lawyer said she could receive as much as £1m if the decision was not overturned.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “The government thinks it was right in principle for Sharon Shoesmith to be removed from her post as director of children's services.”

He added: “Our initial application to appeal has been turned down by the Court of Appeal. We have now filed an application for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.”

“The High Court thought that the decision was taken in a fair way. The Court of Appeal said [on May 27] that they thought it was not sufficiently fair, and was therefore unlawful.

“There are questions of constitutional importance involved in this case, beyond the specific |question about whether Ed Balls should have had a further meeting with Sharon Shoesmith before removing her.”

Ms Shoesmith's career was left in ruins after she was removed from her post in December 2008 by then education secretary Ed Balls and sacked by her council.

The axe fell after regulator Ofsted published a damning report in the wake of 17-month-old Peter Connelly's death, exposing failings in her department.

Lawyers argued that Ms Shoesmith (58) had been the victim of “a flagrant breach of natural justice” and that she had been driven from her £133,000-a-year post in December 2008 by a media witch hunt and political pressure.

A series of reviews identified missed opportunities when officials could have saved Peter’s life if they had acted proprerly on the warning signs in front of them.

profile

The Baby Peter case brought an abrupt and painful end to Sharon Shoesmith's 35-year career. Before Peter's death, she had been widely praised for her work transforming schools in Haringey, one of the poorest parts of the UK. After the Appeal court ruled last month that she was unfairly sacked she said she hopes to continue working.

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