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Six-figure Baby Peter sum agreed

Source BBC News@

Sharon ShoesmithMs Shoesmith's settlement is understood to be significantly less than the £1m she was seeking

The former head of Haringey children's services has agreed a payout of more than £600,000 for her unfair dismissal, BBC Newsnight understands.

In 2011, Sharon Shoesmith, who earned £133,000 a year, won a ruling that she had been unfairly sacked after Ofsted published a damning report about the death of Baby Peter.

Peter Connelly, who was 17 months old, died in 2007 after months of abuse.

It emerged the family had been visited numerous times before his death.

The boy had more than 50 injuries, despite being on the at-risk register and receiving 60 visits from social workers, police and health professionals over eight months.

Three people were jailed in 2009, including his mother.

The Court of Appeal concluded Ms Shoesmith had been "unfairly scapegoated" and her removal from office in December 2008 by the then Children's Secretary Ed Balls had been "intrinsically unfair and unlawful".


Now Haringey Council has reached an agreement over compensation with Ms Shoesmith.

Sources say she will be paid more than £600,000 - significantly short of the £1m figure it had been reported she was seeking.

Baby Peter timeline

Baby Peter Connelly

  • 3 August 2007: One-year-old Peter Connelly (Baby P) found dead in his cot

  • 11 November 2008: Peter's mother, Tracey Connelly, boyfriend Steven Barker and brother Jason Owen convicted of causing his death

  • 13 November 2008: Ed Balls orders inquiry into role of the local authority, the health authority and the police

  • 8 December 2008: Ms Shoesmith is sacked with immediate effect

  • 22 May 2009: Connelly, Owen and Barker all get lengthy jail sentences

  • 15 September 2010: Ms Shoesmith asks a House of Commons committee why the police and health services had not also been made to take responsibility

  • 27 May 2011: The Court of Appeal rules in favour of Ms Shoesmith

  • Oct 2013: Ms Shoesmith agrees a six-figure payout with Haringey Council

But it would appear the package is more than the minimum suggested by senior judge Lord Neuberger in a 2011 ruling in the Court of Appeal. He suggested she was entitled to a minimum of three months' salary plus pensions contributions.

Three months' salary would have been £33,000.

Lord Neuberger had suggested the Department for Education should contribute to any payout for Ms Shoesmith by her employer Haringey Council.

His judgement said: "It would be entirely appropriate for Haringey to seek a voluntary contribution from the Secretary of State whose unlawful directions gave rise to the problems."

It is understood that the department will meet a proportion of the payout, the details of which were agreed by Haringay Council in the past few days, but an exact figure has yet to be agreed.

BBC Newsnight also understands that the council and Ms Shoesmith have signed a confidentiality clause preventing disclosure of the total.

'Gove furious'

One source told Newsnight that Education Secretary Michael Gove was "furious" about the clause, believing it to be "indefensible".

Lawyers representing Haringey Council and Ms Shoesmith had been in lengthy discussions regarding a payout since the May 2011 ruling.

Ms Shoesmith had been due to return to court later this week, seeking a declaration that she remained employed by Haringey Council.

That action has now been dropped and the settlement reached between the two parties is understood to be a final one.

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

Earlier this month it was reported that Connelly was due to be released from prison on parole.

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