Education & Family

Shoesmith given leave to appeal

Sharon Shoesmith
Image caption Sharon Shoesmith was sacked in December 2008

Sharon Shoesmith has been given leave to appeal over her sacking as the head of children's services in Haringey after the death of Baby Peter.

She has also had a claim for costs made against her reduced from £350,000 to £10,000.

In April, Mr Justice Foskett rejected her claim that she had been unlawfully sacked. He has now said she is free to take the case to the Court of Appeal.

Baby Peter Connolly was found dead in his cot in August 2007.

He had more than 50 injuries, including fractured ribs and a broken back. His mother, her partner and a lodger were all jailed for causing or allowing his death.

The 17-month-old child had been seen by health and social services professionals 60 times in the eight months before he died.

Sharon Shoesmith has claimed she was made a scapegoat for the death and that she was unlawfully sacked in December 2008, after a media outcry following the court case.

As the Education Secretary at that time, Ed Balls had ordered her removal as Haringey's head of children's services after receiving a damning report from Ofsted on child protection in Haringey.

Ms Shoesmith's lawyers claim he was influenced by media pressure.

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

In April, Mr Justice Foskett said in a High Court ruling that the decision to remove her had been taken fairly.

However, he has now said she is free to take her case against the Secretary of State and Haringey Council to the Court of Appeal.

Mr Justice Foskett said he stood by his original verdict but accepted that the Court of Appeal might take a different view to his.

He added that there were important issues of public interest involved.

"It is by no means fanciful that the Court of Appeal may differ from my view," he said.

"There is, in my view, a wider public interest than merely the interest arising from the circumstances of this case for a considered judgment of the Court of Appeal, reflecting on the authorities to which my attention was drawn, so as to provide an authoritative focus in this difficult area," he said.

Lawyers for Sharon Shoesmith have said they generally welcome the judge's decision.

They said she was also considering an appeal against Ofsted.

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