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Robert Verkaik: A legal battle that could run for years to come


Saturday 24 April 2010 00:00 BST

This is not the last we have heard from Sharon Shoesmith and her campaign to prove she was made a scapegoat over the tragic death of Baby Peter.

Expect an announcement very soon that the former head of children's services at Haringey Council will take her case to the Court of Appeal or resume her claim for unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal.

Yesterday's joint declaration of victory by Ed Balls and Ofsted over their handling of the case may yet prove to be a hollow one.

Mr Justice Foskett, the judge hearing the failed judicial review case, couldn't have been more encouraging of Ms Shoesmith's efforts to take her unfair dismissal claim to an employment tribunal.

He said the advantage of using the tribunal route was that the merits of her case could be considered in the "broadest sense" without Ms Shoesmith having to worry about paying the other side's costs if she lost.

Her lawyers would have also been buoyed by the judge's assessment of Haringey's treatment of Ms Shoesmith, when he said: "The overall impression gained of Haringey's approach was that the sooner Ms Shoesmith was dismissed with no compensation, the better, and that everyone could move on once that happened."

He said that it "created the appearance of an unfair process". Neither did the judge think that Mr Balls had been wise to rule out the prospect of compensation.

The case could drag on for years. But such are the feelings of revulsion over the failures leading to the death of Baby Peter that whatever the outcome of her legal case, Ms Shoesmith will never a get a fair hearing in the court of public opinion.

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