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Shoesmith review fails

27 April 2010

A judicial review brought by Sharon Shoesmith, head of children’s services at Haringey Council when Baby P died, against children’s secretary Ed Balls, Ofsted and Haringey Council has failed.

However, Mr Justice Foskett said Haringey Council’s approach to Shoesmith’s departure “created the appearance of an unfair process” and she could pursue her claim for unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal.

Giving judgment in R (on the application of Shoesmith) v Ofsted and others [2010] EWHC 852 (Admin), Foskett J said Shoesmith’s claim was for judicial review of the Ofsted report, the action of secretary of state Ed Balls in removing her from office based on it and the actions of the council in dismissing her.

In each case the judge said Shoesmith sought a declaration of unfairness. Mr Justice Foskett ruled that the grounds for a declaration against Ofsted and Balls were not made out.

Foskett J said that if “there had been a sustainable case that the Ofsted report had been ‘made to order’ at the instance of, or on behalf of, the secretary of state”, the outcome of the case would have been different.

He said the overall impression he had gained of Haringey’s approach to her dismissal was that “the sooner the claimant was dismissed with no compensation, the better, and that everyone could ‘move on’ once that had happened”.

Foskett J went on: “However, simply because the Ofsted report was in the terms it was, and the secretary of state acted as he did and he, others and various national newspapers called for the claimant’s summary dismissal, was no proper justification for taking such an approach and it created the appearance of an unfair process.”

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