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15 SEP 2010

Sharon Shoesmith gives evidence to MPs' inquiry into child safety

The former Director of Children's Services for Haringey Council, Sharon Shoesmith, has defended her role in the Baby P scandal to a group of MPs examining child safeguarding procedures.

Giving evidence to the Education Committee, she said in her opening comments: "The whole sector is now motivated by fear of failure and not the conditions of success.

"There never was a doubt about how sorry I was, and everyone else at Haringey was, about the murder of Peter Connelly. Absolutely, no doubt at all."

She continued: "To construct a narrative which told the public that Peter Connelly died because Haringey was uniquely weak, sack everyone from the director to the social worker and all would be well was, quite frankly, absurd. The honest story will be told eventually.

"So I must start by telling you that if you believe the narrative put to the public by some members of the press and some politicians, then we begin on different pages. For children, the impact has been far-reaching. Since 2008 the number coming into care has increased 30%... The number we have subject to a child protection plan has doubled... Yet this wider net seems to have had little impact on the number of children who die."

Ms Shoesmith was dismissed from her £130,000-a-year post at Haringey Council without compensation in December 2008 after a damning Ofsted report into her department's failings over the tragic death of the one-year-old Peter Connelly.

Last April Ms Shoesmith lost her judicial review over her dismissal against Ofsted, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families and Haringey Council.

Peter Connolly was 17-months-old and on the at-risk register when he died at the hands of his mother, her boyfriend and their lodger in August 2007.

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