Sharon Shoesmith given leave to appeal

I said this wasn’t over yet. All those who thought Sharon Shoesmith had lost her case against her dismissal from Haringey weren’t paying attention to what the judge actually said. 

Earlier today, the judge refused to award the costs claimed by Ofsted, Haringey and the Department of Education against Ms Shoesmith on the grounds that: 

I did not see this as a plain case where the Claimant could be said to have “lost” in the usually accepted sense of that term. 

He went on to criticise Ed Balls and Haringey for the way the dismissal of Ms Shoesmith had been handled saying: 

Whilst I endeavoured to express my views on this issue with some circumspection given the possibility of further proceedings taking place before the Employment Tribunal (see paragraphs 517-532 of the judgment), it was, I am sure, plain to everyone that I was not satisfied that the procedures adopted by Haringey at this time gave the appearance of fairness and that, had I felt it my role to do so, I would have granted relief in relation to Haringey’s decision. If one has to talk in terms of “wins” or “losses”, the Claimant “won” on this issue and Haringey “lost”. 

That’s judge-speak for saying that, had he been sitting on an employment tribunal, judging only the employment issues, he would have found in Ms Shoesmith’s favour. 

He granted Ms Shoesmith leave to appeal against his decision on the judicial review saying: 

It is by no means fanciful that the Court of Appeal may differ from my view. 

Ms Shoesmith also has a claim lodged with an Employment Tribunal the date for which has yet to be fixed. 

As I said right at the start, I can’t see how her sacking can have been within the law. From reading the judge’s comments today, this is not looking good for Ed Balls or Haringey. 

The full ruling is here.

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5 Responses to Sharon Shoesmith given leave to appeal

  1. Pingback: Sharon Shoesmith given leave to appeal - Rick - Member Blogs - HR Blogs - HR Space from Personnel Today and Xpert HR

  2. Martin Neill says:

    Ms. Shoesmith is not doing herself any favours, judging from her appearance before a Commons committee today, 15th September.

    Her response to whether she had made mistakes or would have done anything differently was unhelpful. The “That’s a heck of a question, given what I have experienced. I have dealt with death threats and brought myself back from the brink” response was a “poor me” one and did not answer the question.

    Her statements that “In the decade from 1999 to 2009, 539 children had died in this way” and that “These are shocking statistics and statistics that are not known. They are too abhorrent for us to consider” indicate that in her top role she has NOT made a difference. In her position I would not have been shying away from consideration of the “abhorrence”, but seeking earnestly the root causes and eradicating them. My view as a project manager is that there is insufficient governance of the work of social workers – and that is down to Ms Shoesmith to implement and enforce. I coach part-time and am training as a counsellor. I offer Ms. Shoesmith my help, but in the interim she needs to know when not to open her mouth and dig herself further into a hole. Her dismissal was unfair and she deserves a fair financial settlement. Please Ms. Shoesmith learn a little empathy and humility. I would certainly help you but I would never work for you in a sub-ordinate capacity – your values are light years from mine!!

  3. Anne McCloskey says:

    Ms Shoesmith is not a social worker. She had responsibility for social work standards and service delivery. I am a social worker but cannot be in charge of teachers or any educational system. I am not qualified to do so.
    Leadership requires knowledge, experience and most of all values. Training is a given. We are the only profession that allows people from other professions to govern us. The safety of vulnerable children cannot be addressed by people who have no direct relevant experience in child protection. It is not a business to be managed. This is what happens when some people pursue prestige. Ironically the Peter Principle relates to people being promoted to the level of their own incompetence.
    Teaching is very different to protecting.

  4. Rick says:

    Thanks for your comment Anne.

    Isn’t this an almost inevitable result of the re-organisations recommended after the Victoria Climbie inquiry?

    When education and children’s social care are combined into one department, education is the biggest component, threfore most of those who end up running Children’s Services are former directors of education, most of whom are former teachers. Result – most of the social workers in the country working in child protection are managed by former teachers.

    I’m not close enough to the detail to be able to say whether that works or doesn’t work in most cases. However, having studied organisations for the past twenty years, I can say that it was entirely predictable.

    • Anne McCloskey says:

      Exactly. However , the reorganisation recommended after the Clibie enquiry was at the behest of people not best placed to judge risk and the shifting sands of acceptable childcare/risk. Most of the people involved were not in touch with the reality of society today. Punishing people does not prevent further child abuse. The statistics show this. Effective leadership from within is the answer. Leadership is not the same as management and that is where a lot of people go wrong. As for the suggestion of proper governance, I wonder how other professions would react if I was responsible for governance and yet not registered as a social worker? I have nothing against teachers, please teach and leave social work to us. Leapfrogging people into highly paid positions they are not experienced enough or indeed qualified for, is madness. Look at the consequences. Ms Shoesmith will no doubt find another post. If she had been qualified she would be struck off and rightly so. Time for plain speaking.

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