The High Court judge who dismissed Sharon Shoesmith’s judicial review application against Haringey Council, Ed Balls, and Ofsted yesterday allowed her to appeal the decision.
Mr Justice Foskett said: “It is by no means fanciful that the Court of Appeal may differ from my view.”
He also slashed claims for legal costs made by the secretary of state, Haringey and Ofsted from £345,000 to £15,000, and reiterated his displeasure at the way the defendants handled the case.
He singled out Ed Balls for particular criticism and said his behaviour “contributed to the impetus” for Shoesmith’s subsequent judicial review application.
Foskett said: “When someone perceives that he or she has been treated unfairly by those in power, so much the greater is the desire for redress and vindication … It seems to me wholly unreal for me to ignore that kind of factor in the overall analysis of what drove the need for this litigation.”
The judge also criticised Haringey for the way it sacked Shoesmith and stated its procedures did not give “the appearance of fairness.” As a result, instead of ordering Shoesmith pay the council the £90,000 costs it claimed, he took the unusual step of ordering the council to pay Shoesmith £10,000. He writes: “If one has to talk in terms of ‘wins’ or ‘losses’, the claimant [Shoesmith] ‘won’ on this issue and Haringey ‘lost’ … .”
Foskett criticised all three defendants for delaying or failing to supply important documentation to the court. “Each of the defendants in this case is a public body with the legal and other resources available to ensure that this is achieved. To the extent that it was not achieved in each of their cases is something that it would be wholly wrong for me to ignore.”
Shoesmith lost her job as director of children’s services at Haringey Council in December 2008, following the release of an Ofsted report into the death of 17-month- old Peter Connolly.
Baby Peter died in August 2007 after suffering more than 50 injuries at the hands of his mother Tracey Connolly, her neo-Nazi boyfriend Steven Barker, and Barker’s brother Jason Owen, despite being on Haringey’s child protection register and having 60 visits from council social workers in the eight months before his death.
Shoesmith claims she was made a “scapegoat” for baby Peter’s death and has a £1m employment tribunal claim for unfair dismissal still pending.
- Sharon Shoesmith given leave to appeal court ruling on dismissal (Guardian)
- Sharon Shoesmith application for judicial review dismissed (The Solicitor)
- Baby P judicial review (The Solicitor)
- Baby P judicial review re-opened (The Solicitor)
- Unfair dismissal (Findlaw.co.uk)
- Legal Q&A (Community)
- Find solicitors (Contact Law)
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