Page last updated at 14:44 GMT, Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Ofsted admits Baby P report error

Sharon Shoesmith
Ms Shoesmith was sacked in December

Ofsted has admitted making a "deeply regrettable error" by not disclosing an inspection report to the court reviewing Sharon Shoesmith's sacking.

The ex-chief of Haringey children's services says she was unfairly sacked after the Baby Peter abuse case.

The 70-page handwritten notes were from an inspection after Peter's death.

High Court Judge Mr Justice Foskett gave Ofsted 14 days to ensure no other documents in the case were withheld. Ofsted said it had "nothing to hide".

Unfortunately mistakes sometimes happen and whilst this is a serious one and deeply regrettable, we have nothing to hide
Ofsted statement

In addition to the inspector's notes various emails and early drafts of the inspection report, carried out by the childcare regulator last November, were also not revealed during the judicial review hearing brought by Ms Shoesmith last month.

Mr Justice Foskett told Ofsted he wanted a letter signed by a senior member of the organisation stating that thorough checks had been made and no more documents remain undisclosed.

In a statement Ofsted said: "Unfortunately mistakes sometimes happen and whilst this is a serious one and deeply regrettable, we have nothing to hide."

Request 'batted away'

The judge ordered Ofsted to give "a full explanation" of how a request from Ms Shoesmith's lawyers about the the draft reports "was dealt with in the way it was".

The judge said the request was made, then "batted away in one particular fashion at the beginning", then the reports were said not to exist - "and now they do".

The judge said: "I want chapter and verse on that."

Mr Justice Foskett said he had hoped to hand down his judgement on Friday but that had been delayed some weeks following the emergence of the documents.

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

James Maurici, appearing for Ms Shoesmith, condemned the "very serious failings on the part of Ofsted in relation to its duty of candour and its response to our requests for further information".

Ms Shoesmith, 56, was dismissed from her post as children's services chief at the north London council in December.

It following the damning 2008 joint area review report which concluded there had been "insufficient strategic leadership and management oversight" in the safeguarding of local children.

Children's Secretary Ed Balls sent Ofsted inspectors into Haringey Council in November 2008 after the trial of those responsible for the death of 17-month-old Baby Peter.

His mother Tracey Connelly, 28, her partner Steven Barker, 33, and Barker's brother Jason Owen, 37, were all jailed for their part in Peter's death.

The judge ordered Ofsted to pay the legal costs of the hearing and the cost of Ms Shoesmith's lawyers going through the newly disclosed evidence.

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