Page last updated at 01:05 GMT, Friday, 23 April 2010 02:05 UK

Judgement expected on Shoesmith case

Sharon Shoesmith
Ms Shoesmith was sacked in December 2008

The High Court is due to rule on on whether Sharon Shoesmith was unfairly sacked following the public outcry over the death of Baby Peter.

The former head of children's services in Haringey, north London, claims she was unlawfully removed from her job.

Her lawyers say she was made a scapegoat after the death of 17-month-old Peter Connelly at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend.

Social workers, health teams and the police had all known he was at risk.

Peter died after enduring months of abuse, despite being seen by health and social services professionals 60 times in the last eight months of his life.

Damning report

Ms Shoesmith applied for a judicial review of her dismissal and the result of that will be given by the High Court, in what is understood to be a 200-page document.

Her action is against Haringey Council, against Ofsted - which produced a damning report into children's services at the council - and against Children's Secretary Ed Balls.

She lost her job in December 2008, a week after Ofsted published an emergency report (called a Joint Area Review) into child protection in Haringey.

Baby Peter Connelly
Baby Peter died from repeated abuse, despite 60 visits from authorities

Ms Shoesmith's lawyers claim the inspectors unfairly altered the report to make it more critical of her.

Court papers released earlier this month show the report was redrafted 17 times.

Ofsted inspectors insist there was no pressure from the government to toughen up their findings.

Ms Shoesmith says it was unlawful that she was not given the opportunity to "correct or contradict" the report before it was submitted to Ed Balls.

Mr Balls ordered her removal as Haringey's head of children's services after receiving the report. Ms Shoesmith's lawyers claim he was influenced by media pressure.

The council then sacked her without money in lieu of notice.

At hearings for the judicial review, submissions from Mr Balls said that Parliament had given the secretary of state "broad" powers to intervene when he judged local child protection arrangements inadequate.

He said he had not been "improperly motivated" by party politics or because of pressure from elements of the media.



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