Page last updated at 00:38 GMT, Tuesday, 13 October 2009 01:38 UK

Analysis: was Shoesmith treated unfairly?

Sharon Shoesmith
Ms Shoesmith was sacked in December

After a four-day High Court hearing, it is now down to Mr Justice Foskett to weigh the arguments over whether Sharon Shoesmith was treated unfairly when she was sacked from her job as Director of Haringey's Children's Services in the wake of the Baby P case.

Ms Shoesmith's lawyers have told the High Court how she has faced death threats and financial ruin.

Lawyers for the inspectors Ofsted and for Haringey have detailed the serious failings found within the department she ran.

And the Secretary of State's barrister has argued that Ed Balls did not act in a kneejerk or party political way when he ordered Sharon Shoesmith be removed from her post.

'Not enough change'

These detailed arguments over who said and did what seem a long way from the story of 17-month-old Peter Connelly - a child who the experts say could and should have been protected from his abusers.

The role of Director of Children's Services was actually created as a result of the death of another child in Haringey, Victoria Climbie.

The 2004 Children Act reorganised services and said every local authority must have a director who would be accountable for safeguarding. This was meant to ensure children were better protected.

But just a few years later, the Baby Peter case showed far too little had changed.


In court, Sharon Shoesmith was accused of being in denial about the "shambolic and disturbing state of affairs" inspectors found within child protection in Haringey.

But you can argue the whole system was in denial about the wider problems that emerged after the Baby Peter case.

Social workers were spending 70 to 80% of their time in front of computers rather than with families and the ongoing shortage of social workers made the pressures acute.

Those pressures could have been picked up earlier, but it took the tragedy of the Baby Peter case to push child protection back up the agenda.

Next month a taskforce will put forward its plans for tackling those problems.

It is likely to be several weeks beforeMr Justice Foskett delivers his judgement in Ms Shoesmith's judicial review.

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