What lessons are there for employers following the Sharon Shoesmith settlement?

It has been widely reported in the press that the former Director of Haringey’s Children’s Services, Sharon Shoesmith, has entered into an out of court settlement with Haringey Council for a reported six figure payout.  This outcome follows several lengthy court battles culminating in the Court of Appeal’s decision that her dismissal was ‘intrinsically unfair and unlawful’.

Employers should take this case as a salutary reminder of the dangers and costs associated with dismissing an employee without following due process, even where the dismissal appears completely justified or inevitable.  As a minimum, employees must be allowed an opportunity to respond to any allegations and put forward their own explanations before dismissal takes place.

Ms Shoesmith was removed from her £133,000 a year post by the then Children’s Secretary, Ed Balls, following Ofsted’s damning report cataloguing ‘catastrophic management failures’.  She was then dismissed by Haringey Council without notice or compensation.

In addition, this case highlights the importance of an employer relying on their own fair reasons for disciplinary action rather than reacting to pressure from third parties.

If you would like clarification on this issue or advice from a member of the Employment and Employee Benefits Team regarding its impact on your business, please contact Lisa Jinks on or call 01733 887703.

The information contained in this article is intended to be a synopsis only. Before acting on it, you should take professional advice.