Baby P: Haringey Council paid £196k in Shoesmith case legal fees

Sharon Shoesmith
Image caption The Court of Appeal ruled Ms Shoesmith had been "unfairly scapegoated"

Haringey Council spent £196,000 trying to fight its former head of children's services in her case for unfair dismissal, it has emerged.

Sharon Shoesmith was sacked over a damning report into the death in 2007 of Baby Peter who was subjected to months of abuse.

Three people were jailed, including his mother.

The Court of Appeal ruled Ms Shoesmith had been "unfairly scapegoated" and that her removal had been unlawful.

Her payout could cost up to £600,000, but she is expected to receive less.

Earlier this week, one government source told BBC Newsnight the exact figure may not emerge as there are confidentiality clauses preventing its disclosure.

The package is believed to be more than the minimum suggested by senior judge Lord Neuberger in a 2011 ruling in the Court of Appeal. He suggested Ms Shoesmith was entitled to a minimum of three months' salary plus pensions contributions.

Three months' salary would have been about £33,000.

Ms Shoesmith was sacked in December 2008 by the then children's secretary, Ed Balls, who has said her payout "leaves a bad taste in the mouth".

On the legal fees, Councillor Richard Wilson, the leader of the opposition Liberal Democrat group on Haringey Council, said: "Whilst we agree Ms Shoesmith should have gone it is not right that the taxpayer has been left with a massive bill because Haringey Council decided not to follow the proper procedures.

"It is appalling that because of the action of the then Labour government and the Labour-run council, local residents will be left with a hefty bill for legal fees."

He added: "Ed Balls and the Labour-run Haringey Council should apologise for landing taxpayers with this massive bill. It adds insult to injury and shows we are still paying the price for mistakes made four years ago."

A council spokesman said: "The legal fees relate to a very complex and long-running process that involved a number of different strands of litigation."

Baby Peter had more than 50 injuries when he died, despite being on the at-risk register and receiving 60 visits from social workers, police and health professionals over eight months.

His mother, Tracey Connelly, her boyfriend, Steven Barker, and his brother, Jason Owen, were jailed in May 2009 for causing or allowing the child's death.

Earlier this month it was reported that Connelly was due to be released from prison on parole.

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