Sharon Shoesmith in line for compensation

Former child protection boss Sharon Shoesmith is in line for compensation estimated at up to £1 million after judges rejected applications to challenge a ruling that she was unfairly sacked following the Baby P tragedy.



The Supreme Court decision sparked a call for an urgent change in the law from former children's secretary Ed Balls, who removed Ms Shoesmith as Haringey Council's director of children's services after a damning report on the death of Peter Connolly.



Mr Balls warned that the ruling will make it harder for ministers to act swiftly to protect children in future.



The Department for Education said it was "very disappointed" at the decision and insisted that the Government still believes Ms Shoesmith's removal was "right in principle".



Ms Shoesmith's career was left in ruins after she was removed from her £133,000-a-year post by Mr Balls and then fired by the north London council without compensation in December 2008, after a report from regulator Ofsted exposed how her department had failed to protect 17-month-old Peter - then known publicly as Baby P.



Her lawyers argued that she was the victim of "a flagrant breach of natural justice" fuelled by a media witch-hunt.



And in May, the Appeal Court concluded she was unfairly sacked because Mr Balls and Haringey did not give her a proper chance to put her case before her removal.



The Department for Education and Haringey sought permission to attempt to overturn the ruling in the Supreme Court, but a court spokesman said that their applications had been refused.



The decision clears the way for Ms Shoesmith to receive compensation which employment law expert Philip Henson, of City firm Bargate Murray, has predicted could total as much as £1 million.



Ms Shoesmith's lawyers, Beachcroft, said they were "pleased" at today's ruling, and were discussing its implications with her.



But Mr Balls said he was "very surprised and concerned" and urged the Government to consider changing the law to clarify ministers' powers.



"I fear that the Appeal Court judgment will now make it very difficult for ministers to act swiftly in the public interest to use their statutory powers when children are at risk, as I did in this case," said the former children's secretary.



"This judgment creates a serious and worrying constitutional ambiguity which now requires urgent action from the Government to resolve."



Peter died in Tottenham, north London, on August 3 2007 at the hands of his mother Tracey Connelly, her lover Steven Barker and their lodger Jason Owen.



He had suffered more than 50 injuries despite being on the at-risk register and receiving 60 visits from social workers, police and health professionals over the final eight months of his life.



A series of reviews identified missed opportunities when officials could have saved his life if they had acted properly on the warning signs in front of them.



Mr Balls said that the Ofsted report into Peter's death catalogued "catastrophic management failures" on such a devastating scale that Haringey's council leader and lead member for children's services resigned their posts.



"My clear responsibility and duty as Secretary of State was to do everything in my power to keep children safe in Haringey and across the country," he said.



"I judged on the basis of that independent report - and on the advice of departmental officials and lawyers - that the right and responsible course of action was for me to use my statutory powers to remove the director of children's services from her position with immediate effect."



Mr Balls insisted that he had been acting within his powers under the Education Act and in line with the advice of civil servants and government lawyers.



Their advice was that it would not be "appropriate" for him to meet Ms Shoesmith to hear her side of the story before removing her from her post, he said.



"Ministers need to be able to exercise their legal duties and make judgments in the public interest based on independent analysis and advice," said Mr Balls. "That is what I did - and I am concerned that this judgment will make it harder for ministers to do so in future...



"I believe it is now essential that the Government acts swiftly to resolve this ambiguity, through primary legislation if necessary, to ensure that ministers can act swiftly and within the law when children are at risk."



A DfE spokesman said: "We believe that the Supreme Court should have heard this case as we believe there are questions of constitutional importance involved, beyond the specific question about whether Ed Balls should have had a meeting with Shoesmith before she was removed from her post as director of children's services.



"We will consider seriously the implications of today's decision and we will now reflect on what steps need to be taken."



Haringey Council said it was "bitterly disappointed" by the decision, adding: "We believe we have acted properly throughout the process and stand by everything we have done. We now need to work through consequent steps to resolve the matter."







PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
Tax now accounts for ‘nearly 80%’ of the price of a bottle of whisky
news

Arts and Entertainment
Peppa Pig wearing her golden boots
film

"Oink! Oink! Hee hee hee!" First interview with the big-screen star

Life and Style
tech

Biohacking group hopes technology will lead people to think about even more dystopian uses

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior .Net Application Developer

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £17500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The successful applicant will b...

Recruitment Genius: Continuous Improvement Manager

£41500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is going through a period o...

Recruitment Genius: Data Entry Administrator

£10670 - £16640 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee