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Angry reaction as Shoesmith goes public

PUBLISHED: 15:07 12 February 2009 | UPDATED: 15:55 07 September 2010

Charlotte Newton RESIDENTS and professionals in west Haringey have dismissed the well-publicised interviews the sacked director of children s services gave this week, as self-serving and self-pitying . In her first interview since she was sacked by Ed Ba

Charlotte Newton

RESIDENTS and professionals in west Haringey have dismissed the well-publicised interviews the sacked director of children's services gave this week, as "self-serving and self-pitying".

In her first interview since she was sacked by Ed Balls in December, Ms Shoesmith, 55, said that she did not resign because of support from her colleagues in Haringey urging her to stay on. And she said that the Government's decision to sack her fuelled a blame culture which would exacerbate a national shortage of social workers.

Speaking to the Guardian newspaper and BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour on Saturday, Ms Shoesmith also revealed that she had contemplated suicide as she struggled to cope with the mounting personal criticism against her.

But residents and politicians in Haringey have expressed little sympathy and still believe she should take responsibility for her department's failings.

Lynne Featherstone, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green said: "She was sacked from her job by the Secretary of State for failing. That was the right decision and that's that.

"My focus is entirely on trying to improve child protection services, and I am still pushing for a public inquiry to examine wider issues."

Highgate campaigner Ralph Crisp said: "The point remains that Sharon Shoesmith was part of the whole culture of denial which permeated Haringey Council, where everyone refused to accept responsibility.

"Cllrs George Meehan and Liz Santry eventually realised the game was up and resigned but Sharon Shoesmith clung on to the bitter end, and even now, after she's been sacked and lost her appeal for unfair dismissal, she's refusing to accept her role in this tragic case. It's outrageous."

Former social worker Sue Hessel, who lives in Crouch End, said: "She came across as self-pitying and self-serving using the air time to talk about herself rather than what went wrong.

"Haringey Social Services should not have shouldered all the blame for Baby P's death. The Ofsted report pointed the finger at the police and the health authority.

"I would have loved her to use the 40 minutes to talk about this or how social services could be improved. She's lost her job now so she's free to say what she likes."

But a health visitor for Westminster PCT, who lives in Crouch End, said: "I felt enormous sympathy for Sharon Shoesmith and for the staff in Haringey because I know what it's like to do the job and the challenges of working with difficult families. I also know the impact this type of work has on the professionals involved.

"My view is that we live in a blame culture and there was definitely a witch-hunt of Ms Shoesmith - she was in an impossible situation."

The council refused to comment but Labour Cllr Lorna Reith, who took over as cabinet member for children and young people when Liz Santry resigned in December, said: "We are preparing a far-reaching programme of change to make sure our children's services are the best they can be.


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