Baby P director’s legal challenge fast-tracked

By Ian Dunt

The woman who lost her job as director of children’s services in the wake of the Baby P scandal has had her legal challenge against the dismissal fast-tracked.

The news comes as the identity of the mother of Baby P, together with that of her boyfriend and tenant, was revealed for the first time.

She was named as Tracey Connelly, 28. Her partner, Steven Barker, 33, is the brother of the third defendant in the case, Jason Owen, 37.

The names had been readily available on the internet since late last year, but major broadcasters had been unable to publish them due to fears of being found in contempt of court – prompting renewed concerns about media law in the age of blogging and social media.

Ms Shoesmith is targeting her legal action against the children’s secretary, Ed Balls, who she says exceeded his powers by removing her from her post on December 1st.

Her employment had become a political embarrassment, after she made several hard-headed statements in the wake of the scandal, and refused to apologise.

The full judicial review into Mr Ball’s decision will take place over three days, starting on October 7th.

Ms Shoesmith is also challenging Mr Balls, Ofsted and Haringey council, where she worked, for not allowing her the opportunity to challenge the schools inspector’s damning report into her department.

The fast tracking of the case is a sign of how seriously the High Court is treating the challenge. The process is only available to cases which focus on important points of law.

Ms Shoesmith has been outspoken in her anger since the Baby P case exploded onto the front pages two years ago, and is risking £50,000 of her own money in the challenge.

A separate challenge is also be launched by the doctor who failed to notice Baby P’s injuries days before he died.