Page last updated at 16:02 GMT, Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Baby P report branded 'unlawful'

Sharon Shoesmith
Ms Shoesmith's solicitors claim 'media pressure' led to her being sacked.

The ex-head of Haringey's children's services, sacked after the death of Baby P, has begun a judicial review into ministers' handling of the affair.

Sharon Shoesmith, 56, was dismissed in December, without compensation, from the north London council after a damning report into her department.

Solicitors for Ms Shoesmith branded the Ofsted report as "unlawful".

Baby P was 17-months-old when he died with more than 50 injuries, despite being on the child protection register.

In the months leading up to his death in August 2007 he was seen about 60 times by child welfare officials, who all missed the signs of abuse.

Children's Secretary Ed Balls sent inspectors into Haringey after the trial of those responsible for Baby P's death.

'Media pressure'

Inspectors identified a string of serious concerns about the council's child protection services, which they described as inadequate.

But Tony Child, Ms Shoesmith's solicitor, said the Ofsted report was unlawful and "issued in disregard of the rules of natural justice".

She was not given the chance to give her views on the findings before publication, while the council breached its own procedures and failed to give her a "meaningful appeal", Mr Child alleged.

He also alleged that Mr Balls had been "influenced by media pressure".

Mr Balls removed Ms Shoesmith from her post on 1 December but she remained suspended on full pay until Haringey councillors decided to sack her a week later.

The action is separate from the employment tribunal claim made by Ms Shoesmith against Haringey.

The toddler's mother admitted causing or allowing the boy's death. Her boyfriend and Jason Owen, 36, were convicted of the same offence in November.

All three have yet to be sentenced.

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