Baby P boss Sharon Shoesmith returns to court

Sharon Shoesmith
Image caption The Court of Appeal had ruled the sacking of Ms Shoesmith was "procedurally unfair"

The former head of Haringey Council children's services has returned to court over her sacking following the death of Baby P.

Sharon Shoesmith is seeking a declaration that she "remains employed" by the council and is entitled to her salary and pension.

She is also claiming damages against the council, which unofficial estimates suggest could reach a six-figure sum.

A High Court judge said the case should go to a hearing next October.

In May 2011, Ms Shoesmith, who earned £133,000 a year, won a ruling that she was unfairly sacked after Ofsted published a damning report into the death of Baby P.

The child, subsequently identified as Peter Connelly, had suffered more than 50 injuries despite being on an at-risk register and being seen 60 times by authorities before he died in 2007.

The Court of Appeal concluded she was "unfairly scapegoated", and her removal from office by the former children's secretary Ed Balls in December 2008 was "intrinsically unfair and unlawful".

The court also ruled the decision by Haringey to dismiss her from its employment, also in December 2008, was "unlawful and void".

Breach of rights

In June 2011, the council wrote to her giving her fresh notice of termination of her contract, with effect from September 2011.

It said the notice was "entirely without prejudice" to its contention that her earlier dismissal in December 2008 was valid.

Ms Shoesmith's latest legal action challenges the legality of this latest "attempt" to terminate her contract of employment.

Her lawyers argue the move is "ineffective", according to common law principles of natural justice.

They also contend there has been a breach of her right to a fair trial under Article Six of the European Convention on Human Rights, and "right to peaceful enjoyment of property" under Article One of the First Protocol.

Their written claim also states the June 2011 decision was unfair because Ms Shoesmith was not told of the proposed grounds for the decision and she had been given no opportunity to state her case.

It is also being argued that Haringey had regard to an "immaterial consideration" - that Ms Shoesmith did not seek "reinstatement of her employment with Haringey".

The claim states that Ms Shoesmith had made it clear that she did not expect to be reinstated as director of children's services, but it had "consistently been her position that she could be employed in some other capacity".

Seventeen-month-old Baby P was found to have suffered fractured ribs and a broken back after months of abuse at home.

His mother, Tracey Connelly and her boyfriend, Steven Barker, and his brother Jason Owen were jailed in May 2009 for causing or allowing the child's death.

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