OFSTED has admitted it made a "serious and deeply regrettable error" by failing to disclose potential evidence in Sharon Shoesmith's appeal against her dismissal.

The childcare regulator was forced to admit the bungle following a Freedom of Information request which prompted the late disclosure in the High Court.

A judge has now ordered that the case be reopened for further investigation meaning a decision on the former Haringey children's services director will be delayed.

Ms Shoesmith, 56, was sacked from her £130,000-a-year post last December after a damning Ofsted report into her department's failings.

Lead inspector Heather Brown, described the quality of practice in the department as the "worst I had ever seen".

Mr Justice Foskett was due to give his judgment on Friday but instead has called a special hearing so the new evidence can be examined.

Ofsted apologised "unreservedly" in court for failing to disclose the contents of an inspector's notebook as well as emails and early drafts of the damning report which helped seal Ms Shoesmith's fate.

The judge also ordered Ofsted to give the court a full explanation as to why the information was withheld despite requests from Ms Shoesmith's lawyers.

Judge Foskett also ordered Ofsted pay the legal costs of today's hearing and to compensate Ms Shoesmith's lawyers for the costs of going through the evidence to check for its relevancy.

A judge in the court battle between Ms Shoesmith, Ofsted, Haringey Council and the department for children, schools and families will now be delayed until the end of December at the earliest.