WITH an air of confidence, disgraced children's services director Sharon Shoesmith appeared at the High Court yesterday for the start of her three-day appeal against her sacking which she claims has “effectively ended her career”.

Lawyers acting on behalf of Ms Shoesmith have claimed a hate campaign led by tabloid neswpapers followed by a fierce debate at Prime Minister's Question Time on November 12, 2008, placed pressure on the Government to be seen as taking decisive action in the wake of the Baby P public outcry.

The court also heard that Tottenham MP David Lammy called Ms Shoesmith following the debate to warn her that "something dreadful was happening in the House of Commons".

Within the hour both the then council leader, George Meehan, and chief executive Dr Ita O'Donovan received calls from children's minister Beverly Hughes and the Department for Children's Schools and Families seeking for Ms Shoesmith to be suspended. They refused.

At an appeal panel on January 12, 2009, Ms Shoesmith said: "Clearly, my head had been sent for and wasn't delivered and as far as I'm concerned what happened next delivered it. I think it is as simple as that. The king sent for my head and he got it."

At 5.23pm that day, children's secretary Ed Balls called a press conference announcing Ofsted would be undertaking a review and upon publication of the report on December 1, 2008, called on Haringey Council to remove her from office and she was suspended by the council.

James Maurici, representing Ms Shoesmith, told the court that children's secretary Ed Balls had given “no consideration” as to whether the former director had a right to defend accusations against her adding she had been denied an opportunity to “have her voice heard”.

As a result, Mr Maurici said Balls had "effectively ended her career" and left her "financially ruined".The stress of this has led Ms Shoesmith suffering health complications and had even considered suicide, the court heard.

Shoesmith joined Haringey Council in 2001 as Director of education before taking on the role of Director of Children's Services in 2004. She was responsible for both education and children's social services and also held the position of chair on the Local Safeguarding Children's Board (LSCB).

It was on her watch that 17-month-old Peter Conelly, Baby P, died on August 3, 2007, having suffered horrific abuse at the hands of mother Tracey Connelly, 27, Conelly's boyfriend Stephen Barker, 33, and his brother Jason Owen, 37.

Baby Peter had been well-known to social services and had been on Haringey Council's child protection register, which lists those most at risk of harm.

The court heard it was decided Ms Shoesmith was the best person to deal with difficult questioning during the media onslaught that would ensue following the end of the trial.

She subsequently gave more than 13 live interviews, in which she claims she apologised several times over Baby P's death, which went unreported in the press.

Instead, her lawyers claim, hers became the face associated with the tragedy as the press had no other pictures to use because the identities of two of the killers, Connelly and Barker, were protected by law.

But despite the public outcry, behind closed doors, Ms Shoesmith's peers, including Liz Santry, former cabinet member for children and young people, sent emails of support to the sacked director.

Council leader Claire Kober, who was chief whip at the time, wrote: "I have the utmost respect for you as a public servant and whilst there are service improvements we must deliver, I have every confidence that you are the individual to get us where we need to be."

The trial continues