Explaining his decision to force Haringey council’s summary dismissal of Sharon Shoesmith, Ed Balls said:
I had to make a grand gesture to appease a rabid tabloid campaign. Faced with the same circumstances, I would take the same decisions again.
Well, OK, that’s not quite what he said. His justification for sacking the children’s services director was:
to restore public confidence and to strengthen front-line practice.
I don’t know about the first of those objectives but he certainly failed in the second.
Next week, in the sober atmosphere of the courtroom, we will start to see the facts of this case laid bare. It would, of course, be immoral to bet on the outcome of a court case, even if the bookies were willing to take the bet, but I reckon Sharon Shoesmith is in with a good chance. Of her four legal claims, at the very least, I would expect her to win the one for unfair dismissal.
In the process, no doubt, the state of children’s social services around the country, the scale of the problems they are up against and the impact of the government’s ‘innovations’ since the Victoria Climbie case will also be exposed to public scrutiny. It won’t be a pretty sight.