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Sacked Shoesmith bites back

PUBLISHED: 11:29 09 February 2009 | UPDATED: 15:55 07 September 2010

By Charlotte Newton THE former director of children's services at Haringey Council, who was sacked over the Baby P case, has accused the government of breathtaking recklessness . In her first interview since she was dismissed in December, Sharon Shoesmi

By Charlotte Newton

THE former director of children's services at Haringey Council, who was sacked over the Baby P case, has accused the government of "breathtaking recklessness".

In her first interview since she was dismissed in December, Sharon Shoesmith, 55, said the government's intervention which led to her sacking had fuelled a blame culture and would exacerbate a national shortage of social workers.

She said: "It just has been deeply reckless, breathtakingly reckless, and I don't think people really understood quite what the potential impact could be.

"And now you've got this, a local tragedy and a national catastrophe."

Speaking to the Guardian newspaper and BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour on Saturday (February 7), Ms Shoesmith also revealed that she had contemplated suicide when criticism of her was at its most potent.

She said: "Of course I've been distressed about this, of course I have, and had many sleepless nights over it...

"Without being dramatic, I think when people are in the eye of the storm, as I was, you do consider how you might end it all and, of course, I did that."

She criticised some sections of the media for embarking on a "witch-hunt" and for vilifying her.

Ms Shoesmith, who was appointed to the post in 2005, was blamed for serious failings in her department in the months leading up to Baby P's death. The little boy, known as Baby P for legal reasons, died from horrific injuries at the hands of his mother, her lover and their lodger in August 2007.

Following an 11-week trial at the Old Bailey, in November last year, the two men were found guilty of causing or allowing his death. The little boy's mother had already pleaded guilty to the same charge. All three are in prison, waiting to be sentenced.

But the case caused a national outcry when it was revealed that Baby P had been subject to a child protection plan and that he had been seen by social workers, police and health professionals 60 times. The fact that he died just streets away from where Victoria Climbie was tortured to death by her Great Aunt and her boyfriend in 2000, also caused many to question whether Haringey Council had improved since the Laming Inquiry into Victoria's death.

Read more in this week's Ham&High and Broadway, out on Thursday.


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