I was right to sack Baby P director, says Ed Balls

Schools Secretary Ed Balls today stood by his decision to sack Haringey’s social services chief over the Baby P case. As Sharon Shoesmith prepared to challenge Mr Balls in the courts, he told the conference that he acted in the best interests of children in the borough.

Baby Peter Connelly died aged 17 months after suffering more than 50 injuries over an eight-month period, during which he was repeatedly seen by the council’s social services.

But Ms Shoesmith is suing for being summarily sacked without compensation. The High Court has fast-tracked her case, setting aside three days from next week for a full hearing of the judicial review.

Ms Shoesmith suggests Mr Balls exceeded his powers when he sacked her as director of children’s services in December. Ms Shoesmith has also challenged Ofsted for failing to give her any opportunity to contradict its damning report into her department.

Mr Balls said: “I had to take tough action to restore public confidence and to strengthen front-line practice. Faced with the same circumstances, I would take the same decisions again.”

Mr Balls stressed that he had admiration for the 79,000 social workers across the UK, pointing out they were “doing a job which can be tough and sometimes dangerous – but which saves lives and makes a huge difference to thousands of families.”

He added: “We rarely get the chance to celebrate the quiet successes of our social workers. I am determined to do whatever it takes to get them the training, the IT, the support they need.”