In this high-profile case, Ms Shoesmith was summarily dismissed by Haringey Council as Director of Children’s Services (DCS) in December 2008 following the failures of Haringey’s social services department in the Baby P case.

Ms Shoesmith claimed unfair dismissal. More interestingly, she applied for judicial review against (among others) Haringey. She argued that the dismissal was an unreasonable act of a public body against the holder of a statutory office. It therefore fell within the ambit of judicial review and so the court had the power to declare her dismissal void. Ms Shoesmith claimed that she should therefore receive back pay from the date of her supposed dismissal (which would be substantially in excess of the statutory cap for unfair dismissal).  

The Court of Appeal agreed. It considered it had the power to award Ms Shoesmith back pay, until such time as Haringey lawfully terminated her employment.  

The case has obviously attracted considerable political and media comment. Its legal significance is that it gives employees who perform statutory functions for a public body an alternative remedy - judicial review - to claims in the employment tribunal. Judicial review may be particularly appropriate for those public sector employees on higher salaries.  

R (Shoesmith) v Ofsted and others [2011] EWCA Civ 642