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R (on the application of Shoesmith) v OFSTED and others

DATE: 01 Aug 2011

The Supreme Court today refused to grant permission to appeal to the Secretary of State for Education and Haringey LBC in the litigation involving Sharon Shoesmith. The Court of Appeal (Lord Neuberger MR, Maurice Kay and Stanley Burnton LJJ) had upheld Sharon Shoesmith’s challenge to the decisions of the Secretary of State and Haringey removing her from statutory office and terminating her employment respectively. In a decision handed down on 27 May 2011, the Court allowed her appeal in respect of both decisions. The Court found that the Secretary of State had acted in breach of common law principles of fairness by not affording Ms Shoesmith an opportunity to put her case in relation to her removal from office. In relation to Haringey, the Court found that it had acted in breach of the principles of natural justice in dismissing her. A majority of the Court (Lord Neuberger MR and Stanley Burnton LJ) also held that the Council’s decision was unlawful because it relied on the unlawful direction of the Secretary of State. Citing the judgment of Sedley LJ in Gibb v. Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust [2010] EWCA Civ 678, the Court found that she had been made “a public sacrifice to deflect press and public obloquy”.

James Maurici and David Blundell acted for Sharon Shoesmith.