Baby P council chief appeal under way

The former children's services chief who lost her job over the Baby P tragedy is appearing before an appeal panel in an attempt to overturn her sacking.











Sharon Shoesmith, 55, was dismissed without compensation from her senior position at Haringey Council in north London last month after a damning report into her department's failings.



Employment law experts say she could be in line for a payout of up to £173,000 after she launched an appeal against the local authority's decision to sack her.



Ms Shoesmith's appeal hearing before a panel of three Haringey councillors began on Wednesday and is still under way, a council source said.



She is being represented by Tony Child, a partner with leading legal firm Beachcroft who is an expert in local government law.



Children's Secretary Ed Balls sent inspectors into Haringey Council after the trial of those responsible for 17-month-old Baby P's brutal death.



The inspectors identified a string of "serious concerns" about the local authority's child protection services, which they described as "inadequate".



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



The Sun reported that the appeal hearing is likely to last three days and the councillors will not make their decision for at least a fortnight.



The paper quoted an unnamed source as saying: "Shoesmith is basing her appeal on the grounds that the panel failed to apply the law properly, and failed to check whether the findings of the highly critical report into Baby P were true.



"She also believed Ed Balls acted above the law in forcing the council to dismiss her."



Opposition politicians are urging councillors to stick by the original decision to sack Ms Shoesmith, saying there should be "no reward for failure".



Haringey Council refused to comment.



Baby P, who cannot be named for legal reasons, died in a blood-splattered cot in August 2007.



He had suffered more than 50 injuries at the hands of his mother, her boyfriend and their lodger despite being on the child protection register and receiving 60 contacts with the authorities over eight months.



The trio will be sentenced at the Old Bailey in the spring.

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