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Shoesmith begins appeal over Baby P

Sharon Shoesmith has launched a Court of Appeal battle over her sacking after the Baby P tragedy.

Her dismissal as director of children's services at Haringey Council in north London was neither lawful nor fair, her counsel told three appeal judges.

Ms Shoesmith was sacked in December 2008 after a damning Ofsted report into failings in her department exposed by Baby P's death.

She is seeking to overturn a High Court ruling that declared lawful decisions made by regulator Ofsted, former children's secretary Ed Balls and Haringey Council which led to the loss of her £130,000-a-year job.

James Maurici, appearing for Ms Shoesmith, said there had been "buck passing" between the three which had led to her being denied natural justice and a fair hearing.

Mr Maurici said: "On December 1 2008, while trapped in her flat by the media, she had the extreme misfortune to see on television the secretary of state Mr Ed Balls at a live press conference announce that he was directing that Haringey remove her from her post 'with immediate effect'."

He said Mr Balls had acted following an Ofsted report which made "damning findings" on children's services in Haringey - a report Ms Shoesmith had not seen, or been given a chance to respond to, before Mr Balls ordered her removal.

Mr Maurici said High Court judge Mr Justice Foskett, who had found her sacking lawful, had commented: "I do not think that any fair-minded person could think that this was a satisfactory state of affairs." He told the appeal judges - Lord Neuberger, Master of the Rolls, sitting with Lord Justice Maurice Kay and Lord Justice Stanley Burnton - the comment "lies at the heart of this appeal".

Government lawyers say Mr Balls' actions were carefully thought through and a rational response to the Ofsted report, against the backdrop of public concern following the death of Baby P.

Baby P - Peter Connelly - was 17 months old when he died in August 2007 at the hands of his mother Tracey Connelly, her lover Steven Barker and their lodger, Barker's brother Jason Owen. He had suffered 50 injuries despite receiving 60 visits from social workers, doctors and police over the final eight months of his life.


From Belfast Telegraph