Anyone who thought Sharon Shoesmith was going to go quietly was seriously mistaken. She is throwing everything she can at Haringey council and Ed Balls. As well as an unfair dismissal claim and a judicial review, she has added an allegation of sexual discrimination for good measure. I must confess that my mum saw this one coming before I did. She raised the discrimination question back in December when Haringey appointed Peter Lewis to Sharon Shoesmith’s old job on 50% more pay.
On the face of it, I can’t see this aspect of Ms Shoesmith’s case succeeding. From what has been reported, there is no obvious evidence of gender discrimination in her dismissal. Nevertheless, a sex discrimination claim raises the stakes. There is no cap on compensation in cases of illegal discrimination, so her claim increases the potential award. One should never make predictions but I will be surprised if the sex discrimination claim succeeds and I will be equally surprised if the claim for unfair dismissal fails.
Will Haringey council settle out of court? I don’t see how they can. They must have known when they dismissed Sharon Shoesmith that they were on shaky ground. The decision not to pay her compensation was taken to avoid the negative publicity. To settle out of court now would draw savage attacks from the press and make the original rapid dismissal pointless.
I reckon this one will go to court and possibly to several appeal stages. In the process, the whole sorry saga will be dragged out into the open. More criticism will be thrown at Sharon Shoesmith but she’s had so much of it that it probably can’t do much more damage. Those with most to lose are the government, especially Ed Balls, and Haringey council.