In a case bearing a remarkable similarity to that of Sharon Shoesmith, Salford City Council has dismissed its director of children’s services without compensation or pay in lieu of notice. Salford’s social services department failed to prevent the murder of two-year-old Demi Leigh Mahon, who was beaten to death by her babysitter in July 2008. Following a critical Ofsted report in September, the council sacked children’s services head Jill Baker for gross misconduct.
The chair of the panel which dismissed Mrs Baker, councillor Bill Hinds, said:
The panel was told there had been a loss of trust and confidence by the chief executive Barbara Spicer, council leader councillor John Merry, and lead member councillor John Warmisham, in Mrs Baker’s ability to lead and manage the Children’s Services directorate.
This meant she was unable to honour the terms of her contract, which is a fundamental breach of contract and therefore gross misconduct.
So all you have to do now to prove that I’m guilty of gross misconduct is to say that you’ve lost trust me? Then ‘bingo’ you can fire me without compensation?
I don’t know who is advising councillor Hinds but their interpretation of employment law is, erm, novel to say the least.
It may not surprise you to learn that Jill Baker does not intend to let matters rest there. She has said that she will go to an employment tribunal if her dismissal is upheld after appeal.
And, if she does, I reckon she’s in with a good chance.