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Baby P council chief claims 'unfair dismissal'

PUBLISHED: 15:33 07 October 2009 | UPDATED: 16:28 07 September 2010

Sharon Shoesmith

Sharon Shoesmith

THE former director of children s services at Haringey Council who lost her job over the Baby P tragedy was the victim of a flagrant breach of the rules of natural justice that left her shocked, ruined her career and led her to thoughts of suicide, the

THE former director of children's services at Haringey Council who lost her job over the Baby P tragedy was the victim of a "flagrant breach of the rules of natural justice" that left her shocked, ruined her career and led her to thoughts of suicide, the High Court heard today (Wednesday October 6).

Sharon Shoesmith, 56, was dismissed without compensation by Haringey Council in December after a damning report into her department's failings.

Today she launched judicial review proceedings against the council, Children's Secretary Ed Balls and regulator Ofsted.

James Maurici, appearing for Ms Shoesmith, described how she was still recovering from post traumatic shock.

He told Mr Justice Foskett: "As matters stand the simple fact is the claimant will never work again. She has been financially ruined and her health has been very seriously affected."

Mr Balls sent Ofsted inspectors into Haringey last November after the trial of those responsible for the death of Baby P, who can now be named as Peter Connelly.

The review team identified a string of "serious concerns" about Haringey's child protection services, which they condemned as "inadequate".

Mr Balls removed Ms Shoesmith from her senior post on December 1 and Haringey Council formally dismissed her a week later.

She attempted to overturn the decision to sack her but a panel of councillors rejected her appeal.

In March Ms Shoesmith lodged an employment tribunal claim for unfair dismissal against Haringey Council and launched her judicial review application.

Peter was just 17 months old when he died in August 2007 at the hands of his mother, Tracey Connelly, her lover, Steven Barker and Barker's brother, Jason Owen.

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

Mr Maurici described, as Ms Shoesmith sat behind him, how she had been "deeply shocked and saddened" over the way Baby P's young life was cut tragically short "in utterly horrific circumstances".

The case is expected to last until Friday.

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